NRE 516 - Aquatic Entomology

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Introduction and General Characteristics / Recent Synonomies / Classification of Coleoptera / List of Taxa Presented / References

Lab Notes for the aquatic Coleoptera - “Beetles”

Introduction and General Characteristics

Coleoptera is the largest of the insect orders. Although largely terrestrial, there are about 5,000 aquatic species in about 15 diverse families, 10 of which have adult and larval stages in aquatic environments. Three families have aquatic larvae but terrestrial adults, and two families have terrestrial larvae but aquatic adults. Most common in lentic habitats, a few families are principally lotic. Coleopterans are both primary consumers and predators. Their habitats are also attractive to fish and birds, thus we usually do not find coleopterans in high densities.

Adults are characterized by heavy scleritization and an elytra (sclerotized forewing that shields the metathoracic wing). Antennae segments normally are short, with a maximum of 10-11 segments. Larval morphology is extremely variable, but generally have sclerotized head capsules, short antennae (2-3 segments), and no hind prolegs.

The two major suborders in Michigan are Adephaga and Polyphaga. The former have larvae with 5 tarsal segments, and generally 2 moveable tarsal claws per leg. Adults are generally smooth and shiny ventrally, air is carried under the elytra, and a tip at the posterior end of the body to take in air. The postcoxal processes generally are well-developed and long. Polyphaga larvae have tarsi with 4 segments, 1 tarsal claw per leg fused to the tarsi. Adults generally have a thick, hydrofuge pile on sterna 1 and 2. Air is stored under the elytra and thorax, and these beetles break the water surface with their head and collect air with their shoulders.

Introduction and General Characteristics / Recent Synonomies / Classification of Coleoptera / List of Taxa Presented / References

Recent Synonomies

Ptilodactylidae = Dascillidae
Heterosternuta = Hydroporus (part)
Lioporeus = Hydroporus (part)
Neoporus = Hydroporus (part)
Sanfilippodytes = Hydroporus (part)
Stictotarsus = Deronectes (part)
Nebrioporus = Deronectes (part)

Introduction and General Characteristics / Recent Synonomies / Classification of Coleoptera / List of Taxa Presented / References

Classification of Families and Subfamilies of Aquatic Coleoptera (modified from Lawrence and Newton 1995)

Suborder Family Subfamily Suborder Series Superfamily Family Subfamily
Myxophaga Crowson 1955 Torridincolidae Steffan 1964 # Polyphaga Emery 1886 Staphyliniformia Lameere 1900 Hydrophiloidea Latreille 1802 Hydrophilidae Latreille 1802 Helophorinae Leach 1815
Hydroscaphidae LeConte 1874 Epimetopinae Zaitzev 1908
Microsporidae Crotch 1873 Georissinae Laporte 1840
Adephaga Schellenberg 1806 Gyrinidae Latreille 1810 Spanglerogyrinae Folkerts 1979 Hydrochinae Thomson 1860
Gyrininae Latreille 1810 Spercheinae Erichson 1837 #
Haliplidae Aube 1836 Horelophinae Hansen 1991 #
Noteridae Thomson 1860 Phreatodytinae Ueno 1957 Hydrophilinae Latreille 1802
Noterinae Thomson 1860 Sphaeridiinae Latreille 1802
Amphizoidae LeConte 1853 Staphylinoidea Latreille 1802 Hydraenidae Mulsant 1844 Prosthetopinae Perkins in Perkins & Balfour-Browne 1994
Hygrobiidae Regimbart 1878 (1837) # Hydraeninae Mulsant 1844
Dytiscidae Leach 1815 Copelatinae Van den Branden 1885 Ochthebiinae Thomson 1859
Laccophilinae Gistel 1856 Ptiliidae Erichson 1845/Motschulsky 1845 * Ptiliinae Erichson 1845/Motschulsky 1845 *
Hydroporinae Aube 1836 Nanosellinae Barber 1924 *
Colymbetinae Erichson 1837 Cephaloplectinae Sharp 1883 *
Dytiscinae Leach 1815 Acrotrichinae Reitter 1909 (1856) *
Aubehydrinae Guignot 1942 Staphylinidae Latreille 1802 *
Carabidae Latreille 1802 * Elateriformia Crowson 1960 Scirtoidea Fleming 1821 Scirtidae Fleming 1821
* = only aquatic species considered
# = not known from North America
Dascilloidea Guerin-Meneville 1843 (1834) * Dascillidae Guerin-Meneville 1843 (1834) * Dascillinae Guerin-Meneville 1843 (1834) *
Karumiinae Escalera 1913 *
Byrrhoidea Latreille 1804Elateroidea Leach 1815 Elmidae Curtis 1830 Larainae LeConte 1861
Elminae Curtis 1830
Dryopidae Billberg 1820 (1817)
Lutrochidae Kasap & Crowson 1975
Limnichidae Erichson 1846 Hyphalinae Britton 1971
Limnochinae Erichson 1846
Thaumastodinae Champion 1924
Cephalobyrrhinae Champion 1925
Heteroceridae MacLeay 1825 Elythomerinae Pacheco 1964
Heterocerinae MacLeay 1825
Psephenidae Lacordaire 1854 Eubriinae Lacordaire 1857
Psephenoidinae Hinton 1939
Eubrianacinae Jacobson 1913 (1880)
Psepheninae Lacordaire 1854
Ptilodactylidae Laporte 1836* Anchytarsinae Champion 1897 *
Eulichadidae Crowson 1973
Lampyridae Latreille 1817*
Cucujiformia Lameere 1938 Cleroidea Latreille 1802 Melyridae Leach 1815 *
Tenebrionoidea Latreille 1802 Tenebrionidae Latreille 1802 *
Salpingidae Leach 1815 *
Anthicidae Latreille 1802 *
Chrysomeloidea Latreille 1802 Chrysomelidae Latreille 1802*
Curculionoidea Latreille 1802 Curculionidae Latreille 1802 *

Introduction and General Characteristics / Recent Synonomies / Classification of Coleoptera / List of Taxa Presented / References

List of Taxa Presented

You must be able to identify in a lab exam the following taxa, larvae to genus, adults to family, either by sight or using a taxonomic resource. Taxa denoted in blue are to be identified by sight, those in black are taxa to be identified using any resource you wish within a set period of time (e.g., 1 minute). (Taxa that are blank will not be presented during an exam).

Suborder Family Genus Vial Stage Required Identification
Adephaga Gyrinidae Dineutus 1 A Key
Dineutus 2 L Key
Gyrinus 3 A Visual, Key
Haliplidae Haliplus 4 A Key
Peltodytes 5 A Visual, Key
Dytiscidae Dytiscus 6 L Key
Graphoderus 7 A Visual, Key
Graphoderus 8 L Key
Agabus 9 A Visual, Key
Agabus 10 L Key
Laccophilus 11 A Visual, Key
Laccophilus 12 L
Hydroporus 13 A Visual, Key
Matus 14 A Key
Acilius 15 L Key
Noteridae Hydrocanthus 16 A Visual, Key
Polyphaga Hydrophilidae Berosus 17 A Visual, Key
Enochrus 18 A Key
Tropisternus 19 A Visual, Key
Tropisternus 20 L Key
Hydrobius 21 A
Sperchopsis 22 A Key
Sperchopsis 23 L  
Hydrochara 24 A
Psephenidae Ectopria 25 L Visual, Key
Psephenus 26 L Visual, Key
Elmidae Stenelmis 27 A Visual, Key
Stenelmis 28 L Visual, Key
Optioservus 29 A Visual, Key
Optioservus 30 L Visual, Key
Dryopidae Helichus 31 A Key
Chrysomelidae Donacia 32 A Key
Donacia 33 L Visual, Key
Scirtidae 34 A  
Staphylinidae 35 A
Curculionidae 36 A

Introduction and General Characteristics / Recent Synonomies / Classification of Coleoptera / List of Taxa Presented / References

Useful References

  • Arnett RN. 1960. The beetles of the United States. Catholic University America press: Washington, D.C.
  • Bertrand HPI. 1972. Larves et nymphes des Coléoptères aquatiques du globe. Henri Bertrand, Paris.
  • Beutel RG, Haas F. 2000. Phylogenetic relationships of the suborders of Coleoptera (Insecta). Cladistics 16:103-141.
  • Brown HP. 1972. Aquatic dryopoid beetles (Coleoptera) of the United States. Biota of Freshwater Ecosystems Identification manual No. 6. Washington, D.C., U.S. EPA.
  • Brown HP, White DS. 1978. Notes on separation and identification of North American riffle beetles (Coleoptera: Dryopoidea: Elmidae). Entomological news 89:1-13.
  • Finni GR, Skinner BA. 1975. The Elmidae and Dryopidae (Coleoptera: Dryopoidea) of Indiana. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 48:388-395.
  • Galewski K. 1986. Generic characters of third stage larvae of hydroporinae (Coleoptera, Dytiscidae) with a key to European genera. Pol. Pismo. Entomol. 55:45-54.
  • Hicks BJ, Larson DJ. 2000. Descriptions and recognition of larvae of some northern North American species of Ilybius Erichson (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae). The Coleopterists Bulletin 54(1): 36-59.
  • Holland DG. 1972. A key to the larvae, pupae and adults of the British species of Elminthidae. Freshwater Biological Association Science Publication 26.
  • Kavanaugh DH. 1986. A systematic review of amphizoid beetles (Amphizoidae: Coleoptera) and their phylogenetic relationships to other Adephaga. Proceedings of the California Academy of Science 44:67-109.
  • Larson DJ. 1975. The predaceous water beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) of Alberta: systematics, natural history and distribution. Quaestionnes Entomologicas 11:245-498.
  • Larson DJ, Alarie Y, Roughley RE. 2000. Predaceous diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) of the Nearctic region, with emphasis on the fauna of Canada and Alaska. NRC Research Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 982 pp.
  • Lawrence JF, Newton AF. 1995. Families and subfamilies of Coleoptera (with selected genera, notes, references and data on family-group names), pp. 779-1006 in Biology, phylogeny, and classification of Coleoptera: Papers celebrating the 80th birthday of Roy A. Crowson. J. Pakaluk and S. A. Slipinski (eds.). Museum i Instytut Zoologii PAN: Warszawa, Poland.
  • LeSage L, Harper PP. 1976. Description de numphes d'Elmindae néarctiques (Coléoptères). Canadian Journal of Zoology 54:65-73.
  • Miller KB. 1998. Revision of the Nearctic Liodessus affinis (Say 1823) species group (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae, Hydroporinae, Bidessini). Entomologica Scandinavica 29(3): 281-314.
  • Ruhnau S. 1986. Phylogenetic relations within the Hydradephage (Coleoptera) using larval and pupal characters. Entomologica Basiliense 11:231-271.
  • Smetana A. 1988. Review of the family Hydrophilidae of Canada and Alaska (Coleoptera). Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 142:1-316.
  • Stribling J. B. 1986. Revision of Anchytarsus (Coleoptera: Dryopoidea) and a key to the New World Ptilodactylidae. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 79:219-234.
  • Testa III, S, Lago PK. 1995. The aquatic Hydrophilidae (Coleoptera) of Mississippi. Department of Information Services, Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University.
  • Willson RB. 1967. The Hydrophilidae of Michigan with keys to species of the Great Lakes Region. M.S. Thesis, Michigan State University. 100 pp.
  • Wolfe GW, Zimmerman JR. 1984. Sensilla, punctuation, reticulation and body shape in the Hydroporinae (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae). International Journal of Insect Morphology and Embryology 13:373-387.
  • Wooldridge DP. 1967. The aquatic Hydrophilidae of Illinois. Illinois State Academy of Sciences 60:422-431.
  • Young FN. 1954. The water beetles of Florida. University of Florida Press: Gainesville, Florida.
  • Young DK, Stribling JB. 1990. Systematics of the North American Cyphon collaris species complex with the description of a new species (Coleoptera: Scirtidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 92(2):194-204

Page created: March 19, 2001 (EB)
Page last edited: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 (EB)


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