Classification. Polyphaga: Elateriformia.
Distribution. Phengodidae are distributed throughout the New World from extreme southern Canada to Chile (SEE Taxon Notes).
Biogeographic regions: Nearctic, Neotropical.
Biology. Larval and female Phengodidae are predators, feeding on millipedes and other arthropods occurring in soil and litter. The winged males, which are often attracted to lights at night, are short-lived and probably do not feed. Females are much larger than the males and are completely larviform. Males may be luminescent, but females and larvae have a series of luminescent organs on trunk segments, which emit yellow or green light, and sometimes an additional head organ, which emits red light.
Notes. Those Old World forms sometimes placed in this family by Crowson (1972) (e.g. Diplocladon) are coded separately and placed in Rhagophthalmidae.
Barber, H. S. 1905. Notes on Phengodes in the vicinity of Washington, D. C. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 7: 196–197.
Barber, H. S. 1907. The glow-worm Astraptor. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 9: 41–43.
Costa, C., S. A. Vanin, S. A. Casari and V. R. Viviani 1999. Larvae of Neotropical Coleoptera. XXVII. Phrixothrix hirtus: immatures, neotenic female, adult male and bionomic data (Phengidinae, Phengodidae, Coleoptera). Iheringia, Sér. Zool. 86: 9–28.
Crowson, R. A. 1972. A review of the classification of Cantharoidea (Coleoptera), with the definition of two new families, Cneoglossidae and Omethidae. Revista de la Universidad de Madrid 21(82): 35–77.
Harvey, E. N. 1952. Bioluminescence. Academic Press, New York, xvi + 649 pp.
Linsdale, D. D. 1964. A revision of the genus Zarhipis LeConte (Coleoptera: Phengodidae). Wasmann Journal of Biology 18: 225–260.
Murray, A. 1868. On an undescribed light-giving coleopterous larva (provisionally named Astraptor illuminator). Journal of the Linnean Society of London 10: 74–82, pl. 1.
O'Keefe, S. 2000. 69. Phengodidae. IN: R. H. Arnett, Jr., Jr. and M. C. Thomas (eds.), American Beetles. CRC Press, Gainesville, Florida (in press).
Olivier, E. 1910. Pars 10. Rhagophthalmidae, Drilidae. IN: S. Schenkling (ed.), Coleopterorum Catalogus. W. Junk, Berlin, 10 pp.
Paulus, H. F. 1974. Penicillophorus ctenotarsus n. gen. et n. sp. aus Kolumbien, mit einer Beschreibung einer neuen tribus Penicillophorini der Phengodidae (Col., Polyphaga, Cantharoidea). Zeitschrift der Arbeitgemeinschaft Österreichischer Entomologen 25(3/4)(1973): 69–80.
Pic, M. 1927. Pars 94. Phengodidae, Karumiidae. IN: S. Schenkling (ed.), Coleopterorum Catalogus. W. Junk, Berlin, 8 pp.
Pic, M. 1930. Contribution a l'étude des Coléoptères Malacodermes. (2e article). Annales de la Société Entomologique de France 99: 311–324.
Tiemann, D. L. 1967. Observations on the natural history of the western banded glowworm Zarhipis integripennis (LeConte) (Coleoptera: Phengodidae). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences (Ser. 4) 35: 235–264.
Tiemann, D. L. 1970. Nature's toy train, the railroad worm. National Geographic 138(1): 56–67.
Wittmer, W. 1963. Zur Kenntnis der Phengodidae (Coleoptera). (25. Beitrag zur Kenntnis der neotropischen Malacodermata). Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 36: 73–99.
Wittmer, W. 1975. The genus Phengodes in the United States (Coleoptera: Phengodidae). Coleopterists Bulletin 29: 231–250.
Wittmer, W. 1976. Arbeiten zu einer Revision der Familie Phengodidae (Coleoptera). Entomologische Arbeiten aus dem Museum G. Frey 27: 415–524.
General appearance. Total length 3.5–22 mm. Ratio of body length to greatest body width 3.2–4.5. Body slightly flattened to moderately 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) greater than 1, or 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 absent. Occiput without stridulatory file. Longitudinal axis of head (from occipital foramen to mouth cavity) inclined at an angle of less than 45 degrees. Frontal region not to moderately, gradually declined. Occipital region without median longitudinal groove or line (endocarina). Frontal region without median groove or line (endocarina). Head without ocelli.
Compound eyes present. Eyes not or only slightly protuberant, or 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, or distinctly emarginate.
Antennal insertions exposed from above; moderately to widely separated, or narrowly separated. Antennae not borne on raised tubercles. 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, or concave to shallowly emarginate, or deeply emarginate or excavate. Mouth cavity anteriorly or anteroventrally oriented. Pregular area without laterally opening cavities. Head ventrally without paired subgenal ridges. Head without anteriorly-projecting genal processes. Gular sutures narrowly separated, or at least partly confluent. Corporotentorium incomplete or absent. Cervical sclerites present.
Antennae. Number of antennomeres 11–12. Antennae when posteriorly extended not reaching middle of prothorax, or reaching beyond middle of prothorax but not middle of elytra, or reaching beyond middle of elytra but not elytral apices, or reaching beyond elytral apices. Antennae pectinate or bipectinate, or plumose or biplumose. Antennomeres 3, 4 or 5 to 10 with double rami (biramose). Antennae at least partly pubescent or with obvious modifications. Antennal modifications beginning on antennomere 4. First antennomere (scape) less than 3 times as long as 2nd (pedicel), or more than 3 times as long as 2nd (pedicel). Antenna not geniculate; without apical club.
Mouthparts. Labrum at least partly visible, or concealed beneath clypeus or apparently absent; free, membranous or separated by suture, or partly or completely fused to clypeus or frontoclypeus, without or with incomplete suture. Major portion of labrum strongly transverse. Apex of labrum subtruncate to slightly convex, or strongly convex, narrowly rounded or acute, or deeply emarginate or bilobed. 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; unidentate, truncate or rounded. Dorsal part of mandible without tubercle; without setose cavity. Incisor edge of mandible simple, or with single tooth. Mandible without mola; without prostheca. Prostheca absent or without articulated, sclerotized process. Maxilla with distinct galea and lacinia, or with single apical lobe. Maxillary lobe(s) not stylet-like. Apex of galea or maxillary lobe densely setose or spinose, or without or with few setae or spines; without heavily sclerotized teeth or hooks. Lacinia without hook(s) or spine(s). Apical maxillary palpomere cylindrical to fusiform, or slightly expanded and truncate to subtriangular, or securiform to cultriform, or aciculate; at least as wide as or longer than preapical one. Maxillary palp without complex palp organ. Apical labial palpomere cylindrical to fusiform. Ligula undivided or finely cleft.
Prothorax. Ratio of pronotal length to greatest pronotal width 0.55–1.1. Prothorax widest anteriorly, or at middle, or posteriorly. Sides of prothorax more or less straight, or moderately to strongly curved, or straight posteriorly, curved anteriorly. Prothorax not laterally compressed to form cavities for legs. Sides of prothorax not or slightly explanate, or moderately to strongly, horizontally 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 complete, or incomplete; simple; visible for their entire lengths from above; without a raised margin. 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, or distinctly sinuate or variously lobed; simple; not or vaguely margined, or with narrow raised margin or bead. Discal carinae of pronotum absent. Pronotal disc without paired basal impressions. Pronotum without median longitudinal groove or line. Hypomeron without pit.
Lateral portion of prosternum in front of coxae shorter than mid length of procoxal cavity. Anterior edge of prosternum not produced anteriorly. Prosternum in front of coxae flat to moderately convex. Prosternum in front of coxae without paired lines or carinae. Anterior edge of prosternum without mesal excavation. Anterolateral or ventrolateral portions of prothorax without cavities or grooves. Prothoracic cavities absent. Prothoracic grooves absent. Prosternal process absent; without transverse groove. Accessory (mesal) procoxal articulation absent. 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 projecting well below prosternum. Procoxa without or with short concealed lateral extension. Procoxal cavities present, procoxae countersunk, or absent, procoxae attached externally. Procoxal cavity strongly transverse. Procoxal cavities at middle contiguous. 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 at least partly exposed. Promesothoracic clicking mechanism absent.
Elytra. Elytra present. Ratio of elytral length to greatest elytral width 1.07–2.4. Ratio of elytral length to pronotal length 1.8–5.2. Elytra apunctate, irregularly punctate, or with 5 or fewer distinct puncture rows or striae; without scutellary striole. Sutural stria absent or not deeply impressed near apex. Abdominal tergites exposed by elytra at least one but less than 2, or at least 2 but less than 3, or 3 or more. Exposed abdominal segments more or less flexible. Elytral apices independently rounded or acute and separated by broad gap. 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; not abruptly elevated; anteriorly simple; posteriorly truncate. 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 absent. Mesocoxa conical and projecting. Mesocoxal cavities present, mesocoxae countersunk, or absent, mesocoxae attached externally. Mesocoxal cavities at middle contiguous. Mesocoxae separated by less than shortest diameter of coxal cavity. Mesocoxal cavities circular to slightly transverse; moderately to strongly oblique. Mesoventrite partly or completely fused to mesepisterna. Mesepisterna without deep pockets. Mesepimeron not visible from above. Mesocoxal cavities open laterally; not partly closed by metepisterna. Mesoventral process absent or not extending to middle of mesocoxal cavity. Mesometaventral junction absent or a point. Mesoventral and metaventral processes at midline separated by gap, groove, or suture. Accessory (mesal) mesocoxal articulation absent.
Metaventral discrimen or median line moderately to very long. Paired postcoxal lines of metaventrite absent. Postcoxal lines of metaventrite absent. 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 moderately elongate, or very long and narrow or absent. Metacoxae contiguous or narrowly separated; extending laterally to meet elytra or sides of body; completely separated from metaventrite by suture. Metacoxal plates weakly developed, or absent; not concealing most of basal abdominal ventrite. Metacoxae not greatly enlarged; horizontally oriented, or 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, or short or absent. 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. Radial cell not forming equilateral triangle. Ratio of length of apical area to total wing length less than 0.2. Medial bar of hind wing not crossed by fold. Free veins in medial area of hind wing 5 or 6, or 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 well developed, or 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. Mesotibial spurs glabrous or absent. 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, or distinctly shorter than antepenultimate. Ventral mesotarsal lobes absent, or on penultimate tarsomere only, or on more than one tarsomere. Mesotarsal claws paired; subequal in length and similar in form and angle of inclination; simple, or toothed or bifid, or serrate, denticulate or pectinate. Appendage on each tarsal claw absent. Mesotarsal claws without setae near base. Mesotarsal empodium absent or with 2 or fewer setae. Inner subapical edge of protibia without antenna cleaner. Hind legs without swimming hairs. Preapical surfaces of metatibia without ridges or combs.
Abdomen. Number of abdominal ventrites 8. Number of basal ventrites connate none. Abdominal sternite 2 visible. 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 absent. 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. Subapical abdominal luminous organ absent, or present (rare). Ventrites without setose patches or foveae, or with 1 or more setose patches. Functional spiracles on abdominal segment 8 present. Anterior edge of sternite 8 in male without median strut. Anterior edge of sternite 9 in male without median strut. Tergite 9 in male truncate, or slightly to moderately 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.
Illustrations. • Euryopa. Euryopa singularis Gorham. Locality: Central America. Reference: Gorham 1881. • Phengodes. Phengodes bimaculata Gorham. Locality: Central America. Reference: Gorham 1881.
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’.