Hister Beetles


Summary 2

Histeridae is a family of beetles commonly known as Clown beetles or Hister beetles. This very diverse group of beetles contains 3,900 species found worldwide. They can be easily identified by their shortened elytra that leaves two of the seven tergites exposed, and their elbowed antennae with clubbed ends. These predatory feeders are most active at night and will fake death if they feel threatened. This family of beetles will occupy almost any kind of niche throughout the world. Hister beetles have proved useful during forensic investigations to help in time of death estimation. Also, certain species are used in the control of livestock pests that infest dung and to control houseflies. Because they are predacious and will even eat other Hister beetles, they must be isolated when collected.

SoCal Status 3

Known Species per The California Beetle Database .
Abraeus bolteri
Acritus komai
Acritus nigricornis
Aeletes basalis
Anapleus marginatus
Aphelosternus interstitialis
Atholus bimaculatus
Bacanius acuminatus
Bacanius globulinus
Carcinops consors
Carcinops corticalis
Carcinops gilensis
Carcinops mimeticus
Carcinops opuntiae
Carcinops papagoana
Carcinops pumilio
Carcinops tejonicus
Carcinops tenellus
Dendrophilus punctatus
Epierus nasutus
Epierus planulus
Epierus regularis
Eremosaprinus falli
Eremosaprinus hubbardi
Eremosaprinus unguiculatus
Euspilotus arrogans
Euspilotus insertus
Euspilotus laridus
Euspilotus malkini
Euspilotus scissus
Euspilotus socius
Geomysaprinus obscurus
Geomysaprinus paeminosus
Geomysaprinus pectoralis
Geomysaprinus saulnieri
Geomysaprinus suffusus
Gnathoncus rotundatus
Halacritus maritimus
Hetaerius californicus
Hetaerius hirsutus
Hetaerius morsus
Hetaerius strenuus
Hetaerius tristriatus
Hetaerius wagneri
Hetaerius wheeleri
Hetaerius zelus
Hippeutister californicus
Hister comes
Hister militaris
Hister sellatus
Hololepta pervalida
Hololepta populnea
Hololepta vicina
Hololepta vicina neglecta
Hololepta yucateca
Hypocaccus bigemmeus
Hypocaccus consobrinus
Hypocaccus estriatus
Hypocaccus gaudens
Hypocaccus lucidulus
Hypocaccus propensus
Hypocaccus serrulatus
Iliotona cacti
Margarinotus ephemeralis
Margarinotus fractifrons
Margarinotus harrisii
Margarinotus hudsonicus
Margarinotus merdarius
Margarinotus remotus
Margarinotus sexstriatus
Margarinotus umbilicatus
Monachister californicus
Neopachylopus aenipunctatus
Neopachylopus sulcifrons
Onthophilus lecontei
Paromalus difficilis
Paromalus undetermined
Philoxenus desertorum
Platysoma lecontei
Platysoma punctigerum
Plegaderus consors
Plegaderus nitidus
Plegaderus undetermined
Renclasea falli
Saprinus alienus
Saprinus discoidalis
Saprinus lugens
Saprinus oregonensis
Stictostix californicus
Terapus infernalis
Teretrius obliquulus
Teretrius placitus
Xerosaprinus ciliatoides
Xerosaprinus ciliatus
Xerosaprinus coerulescens
Xerosaprinus fimbriatus
Xerosaprinus intritus
Xerosaprinus lubricus
Xerosaprinus martini
Xerosaprinus plenus
Xerosaprinus vestitus
Xerosaprinus vitiosus

Subclasses 2

There are four subclasses of Histeridae that are predators worth mentioning. These subclasses are known as:

1. Dendrobites

They have two common body shapes. The first type has a flatter shape; the second has a more cylindrical appearance. The former usually lives near tree barks. This is because the prey they feed on, fly eggs, are found near tree bark. The latter also feed on insects and prefer to live in a forested area. Species of the cylindrical Dendrobites usually hunt prey that is unique for that species.

2. Geobiotes

This subclass is the most diverse and the largest of the Hister predator subclasses. The Geobites body structures are generally circular, and they are known for their digging tendencies. This subclass is separated into five more divisions. The members of this subclass live anywhere from the soil, desert, and coast to caves, mammalian burrows, and vegetation. They live in accordance with where their prey lives. One division of the Geobiote feeds on maggots and eggs that are found in forest vegetation or in carrion. Naturally, this Geobiote is found in heavily forested areas. The second and third division hunts for arthropods that feed on dead plant matter. Thus, these types of Geobiotes are found in the sand and burrowed in soil. The fourth type of Geobiotes feed on fly eggs that grow on fresh dung. This division of Geobiotes is found near animal homes such as nests and burrows. The last type of Geobiotes lives in caves. They feed on the mites and other arthropods that occupy the vegetation and fungi found there. This type of Geobiote is known to include species that become blind.

3. Microhisterids

This subclass is the smallest of the four. They live on plant litter and feed on the tiny arthropods found there. Microhisterids, like all other Histeridae, become specialized to hunt their prey and live in their habitats. Like the fifth division of Geobiotes, some Microhisterids are known to be blind as well.

4. Inquilines

This division consists of those Histeridae that live in close proximity with social colonies of arthropods such as ants and termites. Histeridae that live near ants can live in a harmonious or hostile relationship. The hostile Hister beetles feed on the ants. The harmonious Hister beetles eat the same food as the ants, however they may not be in direct competition for the food. These beetles have an excretory organ that produces an odor telling the ants they mean no harm.

Habitat 2

Hister beetles are found throughout the world in various habitats. Histeridae have been located in North America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, but each Hister beetle occupies certain niches. The beetles live in dung, carrion, dead vegetation, sandy areas, under tree bark, mammal burrows, and ant/termite colonies. Charactertistics of the Hister beetle are dependent upon its habitat. For example, the flat Hister beetles are found under bark, while the cylindrical beetles are not. Shape of the beetle will vary from species to species.

A remarkable ability of the Hister beetle is their capacity to live in close proximity with ants (myrmecophiles) and termites (termitophiles). The Hister beetles can live in harmony with the ants or predate on the ants, depending on the species.

Histeridae’s habitat is widespread because they feed on other arthropods. As new food sources are introduced into an environment, the predators of that food source will soon follow. Histeridae live in areas where their prey feed. Some examples are mammalian nests where other arthropods scavenge for food or carrion where maggots will arrive.

Characteristics 2

The Hister beetles are easily identified by their shiny elytra which is typically shiny black or metallic green. The two main shapes for this family are oval and flat. The elytra is shorter than the thorax with typically two of the seven tergites exposed. Hister beetles have specialized heads that can retract into their prothorax and two elbowed antennae with clubbed ends. As predatory feeders, the Hister beetles commonly feed on the Egg, larval, and adult stages of other insects. Certain species are also used to control livestock pests that infest dung or to control house flies. Histeridae are most active at night and they will play dead if they feel threatened.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Udo Schmidt, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/30703260@N08/4451129422
  2. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histeridae
  3. (c) BJ Stacey, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

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