Elateriformia (Coleoptera)


J. F. Lawrence, A. M. Hastings, M. J. Dallwitz, T. A. Paine and E. J. Zurcher


Classification. Polyphaga: Elateriformia.

Distribution. Species of Cerophytum are known from eastern North America, western Europe and tropical America.

Biogeographic regions: Nearctic, Palearctic, Neotropical.

Biology. Larvae of Cerophytum elateroides Latreille have been collected in old decomposing (brown rotten) wood of elm (Ulmus) and alder (Alnus). Adults are capable of "clicking" like Elateridae and other related groups.

Notes. There seems to be little doubt that Cerophytum belongs to the elateroid complex, sharing a similar clicking mechanism with those members of the group in which it has not been secondarily lost. The well-developed, movable (though concealed), prothoracic pleurotrochantin prompted Hlavac (1975) to include the genus in an redefined Artematopoidea; however in most cladistic analyses the taxon is either basal to the elateroids or sister to Throscidae (Lawrence 1988, Calder et al. 1993, Beutel 1995, Muona 1995). The larva, described by Mamaev (1978) and Lawrence (1991), is highly unusual in having unique sucking mouthparts involving paired sucking grooves and styliform mandibles and maxillae, paired thoracic and abdominal glands and bifurcate pretarsi. Anischia, sometimes included here, is placed in a separate family (See ANISCHIIDAE).


Beutel, R. G. 1995. Phylogenetic analysis of Elateriformia (Coleoptera: Polyphaga) based on larval characters. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 33: 145–171.

Buysson, H. du. 1910. Matériaux sur servir s l'histoire des insectes de l'aulne. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 79: 105–128.

Calder, A. A., J. F. Lawrence and J. W. H. Trueman 1993. Austrelater, gen. nov. (Coleoptera: Elateridae), with a description of the larva and comments on elaterid relationships. Invertebrate Taxonomy 7: 1349–1394.

Golbach, R. 1983. Primera cita de la familia Cerophytidae (Coleoptera) para Paraguay, Bolivia y la Argentina. Acya Zoological Lilloana 37: 131–139.

Hlavac, T. F. 1975. The prothorax of Coleoptera: (except Bostrichiformia-Cucujiformia). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 147: 137–183.

Johnson, P. J. 2000. 60. Cerophytidae. IN: R. H. Arnett, Jr., Jr. and M. C. Thomas (eds.), American Beetles. CRC Press, Gainesville, Florida (in press).

Lawrence, J. F. 1991. Cerophytidae (Elateroidea), pp. 409–410. IN: F. W. Stehr (ed.), Immature Insects. Vol. 2. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque, Iowa.

Lohse, G. A. 1979. 35. Familie: Cerophytidae, pp. 186–187. IN: H. Freude, K. W. Harde and G. A. Lohse (eds.), Die Käfer Mitteleuropas. Band 6. Diversicornia. Goecke & Evers, Krefeld.

Mamaev, B. M. 1978. Morphology of the larva of Cerophytum elateroides Latr. and the phylogenetic ties of the Cerophytidae (Coleoptera) family. Doklady (Proceedings) of the Academy of Sciences of U.S.S.R. Zoology 238: 1007–1008.

Muona, J. 1995. The phylogeny of Elateroidea (Coleoptera), or which tree is best today? Cladistics 11: 317–341.

Schenkling, S. 1928. Pars 101. Throscidae, Cerophytidae, Perothopidae. IN: S. Schenkling (ed.), Coleopterorum Catalogus. W. Junk, Berlin, 30 pp.

Soares, B. A. M. and A. L. Peracchi 1964. Sôbre a presença de Cerofítidas no Brasil, com a descrição de duas novas espécies (Insecta: Coleoptera, Cerophytidae). Anais do Segundo Congresso Latino-Americano de Zoologia (São Paulo, 1962) 1: 127–134.

General appearance. Total length 5–8.2 mm. Ratio of body length to greatest body width 2.2–2.45. Body slightly flattened to moderately convex, or strongly convex. Sides of body not evenly curved. Body not capable of conglobation (rolling into a ball). Upper surfaces of body clothed with distinct hairs, setae or scales. Vestiture of upper surfaces not including stiff, erect, dark bristles; not including scales or scale-like setae. Upper surfaces of body without deep foveae. Prothorax, metathorax and-or abdomen without extrusible glands. Underside of body without hydrofuge surface(s).

Head. Ratio of head length to its greatest width (excluding eyes) 1 or less. Head width just behind eyes not distinctly greater than prothoracic width. Head not or slightly declined; not entirely concealed from above by pronotum; without elongate rostrum; not abruptly constricted posteriorly. Temples absent or not closely adpressed to prothorax; absent. Transverse occipital ridge or carina present. Occiput without stridulatory file. Longitudinal axis of head (from occipital foramen to mouth cavity) inclined at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees, or inclined at an angle of more than 90 degrees. Frontal region strongly deflexed, vertical or inflexed at apex only. Occipital region without median longitudinal groove or line (endocarina). Frontal region without median groove or line (endocarina). Head without ocelli.

Compound eyes present. Eyes strongly protuberant. Vertical diameter of eye less than 2 times horizontal diameter. Eyes finely facetted; without interfacetal setae. Ommatidium of the exocone type. Eye entire. Anterior or mesal edge of eye not or only barely emarginate. Posterior edge of eye not or barely emarginate.

Antennal insertions exposed from above, or concealed from above; narrowly separated, or closely approximate or contiguous. Antennae not borne on raised tubercles. Antennal insertions flush with head capsule or raised, not in fossae. Subantennal groove or cavity on head absent or very weakly developed. Frontoclypeal suture absent or incomplete. Clypeus not laterally emarginate. Anterior edge of clypeus or clypeolabrum straight to convex. Mouth cavity ventrally or posteroventrally oriented. Pregular area without laterally opening cavities. Head ventrally without paired subgenal ridges. Head without anteriorly-projecting genal processes. Gular sutures widely separated or absent. Corporotentorium incomplete or absent. Cervical sclerites present.

Antennae. Number of antennomeres 11. Antennae when posteriorly extended reaching beyond middle of prothorax but not middle of elytra. Antennae serrate, or pectinate or bipectinate. Antennomeres 3, 4 or 5 to 10 without or with single rami (uniramose). Antennae at least partly pubescent or with obvious modifications. Antennal modifications beginning on antennomere 3 (rarely 2). First antennomere (scape) more than 3 times as long as 2nd (pedicel). Antenna geniculate or elbowed; without apical club.

Mouthparts. Labrum at least partly visible; free, membranous or separated by suture. Major portion of labrum strongly transverse. Apex of labrum subtruncate to slightly convex. Labrum moderately to heavily sclerotized, except at base and-or apex. Mouthparts not forming a piercing or sucking tube. Mandibles present. Mandible very narrow and elongate. Mandibular apex moderately to strongly, gradually curved mesally, or strongly and abruptly curved mesally; unidentate, truncate or rounded; subacute, bidentate or multidentate. Dorsal part of mandible without tubercle; without setose cavity. Mandible moderately to strongly, more or less evenly sclerotized or pigmented; visible in lateral view. Incisor edge of mandible simple. Mandible without mola; without prostheca. Prostheca absent or without articulated, sclerotized process. Inner basal angle of mandible without pubescent process. Maxilla with distinct galea and lacinia. Maxillary lobe(s) not stylet-like. Apex of galea or maxillary lobe densely setose or spinose; without heavily sclerotized teeth or hooks. Lacinia without hook(s) or spine(s). Apical maxillary palpomere slightly expanded and truncate to subtriangular; at least as wide as or longer than preapical one. Maxillary palp without complex palp organ. Apical labial palpomere slightly to strongly expanded apically. Ligula undivided or finely cleft.

Prothorax. Ratio of pronotal length to greatest pronotal width 0.55–0.65. Prothorax widest at middle. Sides of prothorax moderately to strongly curved. Prothorax not laterally compressed to form cavities for legs. Sides of prothorax not or slightly explanate. Base of prothorax not or slightly narrower than elytral bases. Greatest prothoracic width not or slightly narrower than greatest elytral width. Lateral pronotal carinae absent. Lateral portion of prothorax without deep pit. Pronotum without anterolateral callosities. Anterior angles of pronotum absent or not produced forward; absent, right or rounded, not produced. Posterior angles of pronotum obtuse or right, or moderately to strongly acute; not produced and acute. Posterior edge of pronotum more or less straight or evenly rounded; simple; not or vaguely margined. Discal carinae of pronotum absent. Pronotal disc without paired basal impressions. Pronotum without median longitudinal groove or line. Anterior edge of pronotum simple, without margin. Hypomeron without pit.

Anterior portion of prosternum at midline longer than prosternal process. Lateral portion of prosternum in front of coxae longer than mid length of procoxal cavity. Anterior edge of prosternum distinctly produced forming chin piece. Prosternum in front of coxae strongly convex without carina. Prosternum in front of coxae without paired lines or carinae. Anterior edge of prosternum without margin; without mesal excavation. Anterolateral or ventrolateral portions of prothorax without cavities or grooves. Prothoracic cavities absent. Prothoracic grooves absent. Prosternal process complete; gradually expanded and then narrowed; strongly elevated and curved dorsally behind coxae; moderately to strongly overlapping mesoventrite. Apex of prosternal process acute or narrowly rounded. Prosternal process without transverse groove. Accessory (mesal) procoxal articulation absent, or formed by prosternal tongue and coxal groove. Ventral portion of prothorax on each side with notosternal suture only. Propleuron not extending to anterior edge of prothorax. Propleuron or pleurotrochantin not extending behind coxa. Procoxae not or slightly projecting below prosternum. Procoxa with long concealed, lateral extension. Procoxal cavity circular or longer than wide. Procoxal cavities at middle moderately to widely separated. Procoxal cavities externally open; broadly open. Postcoxal projection absent or very short. Procoxal cavities without narrow lateral extensions. Procoxal cavities internally open. Prothoracic trochantin or pleurotrochantin completely concealed or absent. Promesothoracic clicking mechanism present.

Elytra. Elytra present. Ratio of elytral length to greatest elytral width 1.7–2. Ratio of elytral length to pronotal length 3.43–4.35. Elytra with more than 5 distinct puncture rows; without scutellary striole. Number elytral puncture rows or striae 9. Sutural stria absent or not deeply impressed near apex. Abdominal tergites exposed by elytra none or apex of 1. Elytral apices meeting or almost meeting at the suture. Elytral suture not deflected near apex. Elytral apex without internal interlocking tongue. Epipleuron absent or incomplete; not or gradually narrowed. Lateral edge of elytron straight or weakly sinuate.

Pterothorax. Scutellum well developed; abruptly elevated; anteriorly simple; posteriorly broadly rounded or obtusely angulate. Mesoscutum without stridulatory file. Mesoventrite without paired procoxal rests. Paired mesoventral procoxal rests absent, horizontal or slightly oblique. Anterior edge of mesoventrite without prosternal rest. Mesoventrite not divided by longitudinal groove or discrimen. Anterior edge of mesoventrite at midline on same plane as metaventrite. Mesoventral cavity moderately to very large and deep. Mesocoxa not conical and projecting. Mesocoxal cavities at middle moderately to widely separated. Mesocoxae separated by less than shortest diameter of coxal cavity. Mesocoxal cavities circular to slightly transverse; not or slightly oblique. Mesoventrite separated by complete sutures from mesepisterna. Mesepisterna distinctly separated at midline; without deep pockets. Mesepimeron not visible from above. Mesocoxal cavities open laterally; not partly closed by metepisterna. Mesoventral process extending at least to middle of mesocoxal cavity. Mesometaventral junction a posteriorly curved, angulate or acute line, or absent due to fusion. Mesoventral and metaventral processes at midline separated by gap, groove, or suture, or solidly fused or separated at most by weakly impressed line. Accessory (mesal) mesocoxal articulation absent.

Metaventral discrimen or median line absent. Paired postcoxal lines of metaventrite present. Postcoxal lines of metaventrite arched but not or slightly recurved. Metaventrite longer than first abdominal ventrite. Postcoxal pits of metaventrite absent. Metaventrite moderately to strongly convex. Transverse groove of metaventrite absent. Anterior edge of metaventrite without transverse carina between mesocoxal cavities. Exposed portion of metepisternum very long and narrow or absent. Metacoxae contiguous or narrowly separated; separated by less than longest coxal diameter; extending laterally to meet elytra or sides of body; completely separated from metaventrite by suture. Metacoxal plates absent. Metacoxae not greatly enlarged; obliquely oriented. Lateral arms of metendosternite short or absent. Metendosternal laminae absent. Ventrolateral processes of metendosternite absent or weakly developed. Anterior process of metendosternite moderately long. Anterior tendons of metendosternite moderately or very close together. Apical portion of metendosternite not or only slightly emarginate.

Hind wing. Hind wing well developed; with normal transverse folds. Radial cell of hind wing well developed; elongate. Inner posterior angle formed at base of radial cell right or obtuse, or acute. Radial cell not forming equilateral triangle. Ratio of length of apical area to total wing length 0.20–0.35. Apical area of hind wing with one or more vague sclerotizations or pigment patches. Medial bar of hind wing not crossed by fold. Free veins in medial area of hind wing 4. Oblongum cell of hind wing absent. Medial fleck of hind wing absent; absent or not partly bisected by a vein. Wedge cell of hind wing absent. Anal lobe of hind wing absent. Posterior edge of hind wing without fringe of long hairs.

Legs. Femoral attachment of mid trochanter strongly oblique with base of femur separate from coxa. Mesotrochanter not reduced or concealed from below. Metafemur not much wider than mesofemur. Mesotibia not strongly widened. Outer edge of mesotibia simple, crenulate or denticulate. Outer subapical edge of mesotibia without antenna cleaner. Preapical surfaces of mesotibia without ridges or combs. Outer apical angle of mesotibia simple or slightly produced, without lobe, teeth or spines. Inner apical angle of mesotibia not or slightly produced, without tooth. Mesotibial spurs glabrous or absent; double. Mesotarsus with 5 distinct tarsomeres (pentamerous). Tarsomeres on hind leg at least as many as on mid leg. Tarsomeres on fore leg at least as many as on mid leg. Mesotarsomere 1 well developed and visible. Preapical mesotarsomeres together longer than apical one. Penultimate mesotarsomere not distinctly shorter than antepenultimate. Ventral mesotarsal lobes on penultimate tarsomere only, or on more than one tarsomere. Mesotarsal claws paired; subequal in length and similar in form and angle of inclination; serrate, denticulate or pectinate. Appendage on each tarsal claw absent. Mesotarsal claws without setae near base. Mesotarsal empodium absent or concealed; absent or with 2 or fewer setae. Outer edge of protibia simple and rounded to carinate but without lobes or teeth, except at apex. Outer apical angle of protibia simple or slightly produced, without lobe, teeth or spines. Inner subapical edge of protibia without antenna cleaner. Protibial spurs double. Articulations of protibial spurs located in same plane. Hind legs without swimming hairs. Preapical surfaces of metatibia without ridges or combs. Metatibial articular area not to only moderately expanded, narrowly oval or oblique. Metatibial spurs double; subequal in length and form.

Abdomen. Number of abdominal ventrites 5. Number of basal ventrites connate four. Abdominal sternite 2 apparently absent. First ventrite not completely divided by metacoxae. Suture between ventrites 1 and 2 distinct. Suture between ventrites 2 and 3 distinct. Ventrite 4 articulated with or connate with both 3 and 5. Postcoxal lines on ventrite 1 absent. Ventrite 1 not much longer than 2. Abdominal process acute or narrowly rounded. Ventrite 5 in female without circular depression. Posterior edge of ventrite 5 not crenulate. Last visible tergite and-or sternite (7 or 8) not forming terminal spine. Tergite and sternite 7 separated by membrane or distinct suture. Subapical abdominal luminous organ absent. Ventrites without setose patches or foveae. Functional spiracles on abdominal segment 8 present. Functional spiracles on abdominal segment 7 present. Functional spiracles on abdominal segment 6 present. Functional spiracles on abdominal segment 5 present. 7th abdominal spiracles located in pleural membrane. 6th abdominal spiracles located in pleural membrane. 5th abdominal spiracles located in pleural membrane. Anterior edge of sternite 8 in male without median strut. Pygidium (sclerotized tergite 7 or 8) more or less horizontal. Anterior edge of sternite 9 in male without median strut. Tergite 9 in male deeply emarginate. Tergite 10 in male well developed and free.

Aedeagus trilobate; symmetrical. Anterior edge of tegmen or phallobase without struts. Parameres individually articulated to phallobase or base of penis; not outwardly hooked. Penis without dorsal and ventral lobes. Anterior edge of penis without struts, or with paired struts.

Illustrations. • Cerophytum. Cerophytum pulsator (Haldeman). Locality: North America. Artist: E. Van Tassell. Courtesy of Dr. Ross Arnett. Reference: Arnett 1963.

The interactive key provides access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, and summaries of attributes within groups of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Lawrence, J.F., Hastings, A.M., Dallwitz, M.J., Paine, T.A., and Zurcher, E.J. 2000 onwards. Elateriformia (Coleoptera): descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval for families and subfamilies. Version: 9th October 2005. http://delta-intkey.com’.