Click beetle

Insects in the family Elateridae are commonly called click beetles (or "typical click beetles" to distinguish them from the related families Cerophytidae and Eucnemidae). Other names include elaters, snapping beetles, spring beetles or skipjacks. This family was defined by William Elford Leach (1790–1836) in 1815. They are a cosmopolitan beetle family characterized by the unusual click mechanism they possess. There are a few other families of Elateroidea in which a few members have the same mechanism, but all elaterids can click. A spine on the prosternum can be snapped into a corresponding notch on the mesosternum, producing a violent "click" that can bounce the beetle into the air.[3] Clicking is mainly used to avoid predation, although it is also useful when the beetle is on its back and needs to right itself. There are about 9300 known species worldwide,[4] and 965 valid species in North America.[5]

Click beetles
Click beetle adults and larvae (wireworms)
Left: Wheat Wireworm (Agriotes mancus)
Right: Sand Wireworm (Horistonotus uhlerii)
Scientific classification

Leach, 1815

Thylacosterninae Sinopyrophorinae[1]



Ampedus nigricollis
Ampedus nigricollis
Melanotus leonardi
Melanotus leonardi

Description and ecology

Some click beetles are large and colorful, but most are under 2 centimeters long and brown or black, without markings. The adults are typically nocturnal and phytophagous, but only some are of economic importance. On hot nights they may enter houses, but are not pests there. Click beetle larvae, called wireworms, are usually saprophagous, living on dead organisms, but some species are serious agricultural pests, and others are active predators of other insect larvae. Some elaterid species are bioluminescent in both larval and adult form, such as those of the genus Pyrophorus.

Larvae are elongate, cylindrical or somewhat flattened, with hard bodies, somewhat resembling mealworms. The three pairs of legs on the thoracic segments are short and the last abdominal segment is, as is frequently the case in beetle larvae, directed downwards and may serve as a terminal proleg in some species. The ninth segment, the rearmost, is pointed in larvae of Agriotes, Dalopius and Melanotus, but is bifid due to a so-called caudal notch in Selatosomus (formerly Ctenicera), Limonius, Hypnoides and Athous species.[6] The dorsum of the ninth abdominal segment may also have sharp processes, such as in the Oestodini, including the genera Drapetes and Oestodes. Although some species complete their development in one year (e.g. Conoderus), most wireworms spend three or four years in the soil, feeding on decaying vegetation and the roots of plants, and often causing damage to agricultural crops such as potato, strawberry, corn, and wheat.[7][8] The subterranean habits of wireworms, their ability to quickly locate food by following carbon dioxide gradients produced by plant material in the soil,[9] and their remarkable ability to recover from illness induced by insecticide exposure (sometimes after many months),[10] make it hard to exterminate them once they have begun to attack a crop. Wireworms can pass easily through the soil on account of their shape and their propensity for following pre-existing burrows,[11] and can travel from plant to plant, thus injuring the roots of multiple plants within a short time. Methods for pest control include crop rotation and clearing the land of insects before sowing.

Other subterranean creatures such as the leatherjacket grub of crane flies which have no legs, and geophilid centipedes, which may have over two hundred, are sometimes confused with the six-legged wireworms.

Selected genera


Lateral aspect of a typical member of the Elateridae. Just below the base of the wings the "clicking" apparatus is visible in silhouette, with the "peg" or "process" in contact with the raised slot or "cavity" into which it slips to force the impact when required.
  1. ^ Bi, Wen-Xuan; He, Jin-Wu; Chen, Chang-Chin; Kundrata, Robin; Li, Xue-Yan (2019-07-17). "Sinopyrophorinae, a new subfamily of Elateridae (Coleoptera, Elateroidea) with the first record of a luminous click beetle in Asia and evidence for multiple origins of bioluminescence in Elateridae". ZooKeys. Pensoft Publishers. 864: 79–97. doi:10.3897/zookeys.864.26689. ISSN 1313-2970.
  2. ^ Robin Kundrata, Nicole L. Gunter, Dominika Janosikova & Ladislav Bocak (2018) Molecular evidence for the subfamilial status of Tetralobinae (Coleoptera: Elateridae), with comments on parallel evolution of some phenotypic characters. Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny 76: 137-145.
  3. ^ How the click beetle jumps from the back !. on Youtube. 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  4. ^ Schneider, M. C.; et al. (2006). "Evolutionary chromosomal differentiation among four species of Conoderus Eschscholtz, 1829 (Coleoptera, Elateridae, Agrypninae, Conoderini) detected by standard staining, C-banding, silver nitrate impregnation, and CMA3/DA/DAPI staining". Genetica. 128 (1–3): 333–346. doi:10.1007/s10709-006-7101-5. PMID 17028962.
  5. ^ Majka, C. G.; P. J. Johnson (2008). "The Elateridae (Coleoptera) of the Maritime Provinces of Canada: faunal composition, new records, and taxonomic changes" (PDF excerpt). Zootaxa. 1811: 1–33. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1811.1.1.
  6. ^ van Herk, W. (March 12, 2009). "Limonius: wireworm research site". Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  7. ^ R. S. Vernon; W. van Herk; J. Tolman; H. Ortiz Saavedra; M. Clodius; B. Gage (2008). "Transitional sublethal and lethal effects of insecticides after dermal exposures to five economic species of wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae)". Journal of Economic Entomology. 101 (2): 365–374. doi:10.1603/0022-0493(2008)101[365:TSALEO]2.0.CO;2. PMID 18459400.
  8. ^ William E. Parker; Julia J. Howard (2001). "The biology and management of wireworms (Agriotes spp.) on potato with particular reference to the U.K.". Agricultural and Forest Entomology. 3 (2): 85–98. doi:10.1046/j.1461-9563.2001.00094.x.
  9. ^ J. F. Doane; Y. W. Lee; N. D. Westcott; J. Klingler (1975). "The orientation response of Ctenicera destructor and other wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae) to germinating grain and to carbon dioxide". Canadian Entomologist. 107 (12): 1233–1252. doi:10.4039/Ent1071233-12.
  10. ^ W. G. van Herk; R. S. Vernon; J. H. Tolman; H. Ortiz Saavedra (2008). "Mortality of a wireworm, Agriotes obscurus (Coleoptera: Elateridae), after topical application of various insecticides". Journal of Economic Entomology. 101 (2): 375–383. doi:10.1603/0022-0493(2008)101[375:moawao];2. PMID 18459401.
  11. ^ Willem G. van Herk; Robert S. Vernon (2007). "Soil bioassay for studying behavioral responses of wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae) to inecticide-treated wheat seed". Environmental Entomology. 36 (6): 1441–1449. doi:10.1603/0046-225X(2007)36[1441:SBFSBR]2.0.CO;2. PMID 18284772.


External links

On the University of Florida / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Featured Creatures website:

Agriotes sputator

Agriotes sputator is a species of click beetle, commonly known as the common click beetle. The adult beetle is brown and inconspicuous, and the larvae live in the soil and are known as wireworms. They are agricultural pests that devour the roots and underground parts of many crops and other plants.


Alaus is a genus of click beetle belonging to the family Elateridae. Unlike many click beetles, Alaus larvae are completely predatory.

Alaus oculatus

Alaus oculatus, commonly called the eastern eyed click beetle or eyed elater, is a species of click beetle.

Amychus granulatus

Amychus granulatus, commonly known as the Cook Strait click beetle, is a large flightless click beetle in the family Elateridae.


The Cerophytidae are a family of insects known as the rare click beetles. It contains 22 species in four genera, primarily distributed in the New World:

Genus Aphytocerus Zherikhin, 1977

Aphytocerus communis Zherikhin, 1977

Genus Brachycerophytum Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Brachycerophytum sinchona Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Genus Cerophytum Latreille, 1806

Cerophytum convexicolle LeConte, 1866

Cerophytum japonicum Sasaji, 1999

Cerophytum pulsator (Haldeman, 1845)

Genus Phytocerum Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum alleni Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum belloi Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum birai Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum boliviense (Golbach, 1983)

Phytocerum burakowskii Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum cayennense (de Bonvouloir, 1870)

Phytocerum distinguendum (Soares & Peracchi, 1964)

Phytocerum golbachi Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum ingens Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum inpa Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum minutum (Golbach, 1983)

Phytocerum serraticorne Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum simonkai Costa, Vanin, Lawrence & Ide, 2003

Phytocerum trinidadense (Golbach, 1983)

Phytocerum zikani (Soares & Peracchi, 1964)

Dixton Wood

Dixton Wood (grid reference SO979313) is a 13.14-hectare (32.5-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Gloucestershire, notified in 2000. Dixton Wood is recognised as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive.

Elater (beetle)

Elater is a genus of click beetle belonging to the family Elateridae.


Hemicrepidius is a genus of click beetle belonging to the family Elateridae.

Lacon (beetle)

Lacon is a genus of click beetle belonging to the family Elateridae and the subfamily Agrypninae.

Lacon marmoratus

Lacon marmoratus, the marbled click beetle, is a species of click beetle in the family Elateridae.

List of click beetle species recorded in Britain

The following is a list of the click beetle (family Elateridae) species recorded in Britain. For other beetles, see List of beetle species recorded in Britain.


Luciferase is a generic term for the class of oxidative enzymes that produce bioluminescence, and is usually distinguished from a photoprotein. The name was first used by Raphaël Dubois who invented the words luciferin and luciferase, for the substrate and enzyme, respectively. Both words are derived from the Latin word lucifer – meaning lightbringer.

Luciferases are widely used in biotechnology, for microscopy and as reporter genes, for many of the same applications as fluorescent proteins. However, unlike fluorescent proteins, luciferases do not require an external light source, but do require addition of luciferin, the consumable substrate.


The Oophorini form an accepted taxonomic tribe within the Elateridae (click beetle) subfamily Agrypninae.


The Pyrophorini are a New World taxonomic tribe within the Elateridae (click beetle) subfamily Agrypninae. Pyrophorini is a tribe of bioluminescent beetles, and includes such genera as Pyrophorus and Ignelater.

It is believed to be monophyletic.

The former tribe Heligmini is very closely related to the Pyrophorini; the latter is exclusively bioluminescent, while the former has a complete absence of adult light organs and only a single species is known to be bioluminescent.Pyrophorini is not the exclusive tribe of bioluminescent click beetles. Tribe Euplinthini also contains bioluminescent species, as well as Campyloxenus pyrothorax (from Chile) in the related monotypic subfamily Campyloxeninae. The newly described Sinopyrophorinae represent the first bioluminescent click beetles known from Asia.Subtribes:

Nyctophyxina (Earliest diverged subtribe)

Hapsodrilina (2nd earlier diverged subtribe)

Pyrophorina (Large subtribe that contains most of the Pyrophorini genera.)

Semiotus ligneus

Semiotus ligneus is a species of click beetle from Central and South America.It grows to a total length of 15–44 millimetres (0.6–1.7 in), and is 3.7–4.2 times as long as it is wide. The larvae are 27 mm (1.1 in) long. It closely resembles seed sheaths, which provides it with effective camouflage.S. ligneus is the most frequently collected species in the genus Semiotus. Its closest relative is Semiotus serraticornis.

Violet click beetle

The violet click beetle (Limoniscus violaceus) is a black beetle, 12 mm long, with a faint blue/violet reflection. It gets its name from the family habit of springing upwards with an audible click if it falls on its back.

The beetle is listed in Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive and Schedule 5 of the UK's Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is also listed as Endangered in the GB Red List. It is to be found in only a few locations in Europe, including three sites in Britain. These are Windsor Forest (where it was first found in 1937), Bredon Hill in Worcestershire (1989), and Dixton Wood SSSI in Gloucestershire (1998).This sapro-xylophagous beetle is found only in the heart of decayed ancient trees, specifically in undisturbed wood-mould at the base of central cavities: in Britain it has been found only in beech and ash trees. Its very specific habitat requirements mean that the beetle is very rare, and even at the three sites where it has been found, there are few suitable trees, and their number is declining. One of the host trees at Windsor blew down in the Great Storm of 1987, but was re-erected solely as a host for the violet click beetle. English Nature's conservation efforts continue in an effort to create more suitable trees, including by erecting more decaying trees, and artificially aging some others.

The violet click beetle is one of the species that the Back from the Brink project aims to save from extinction.

Windsor Forest and Great Park

Windsor Forest and Great Park is a 1,778.9-hectare (4,396-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Berkshire and Surrey, located south of Windsor. It is a Special Area of Conservation and Windsor Forest is a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I. Landscaped woodland gardens are Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. Windsor Great Park is a Royal Park of 2,020 hectares (5,000 acres), including a deer park,This large site has woodland with many ancient trees and large areas of parkland. It is second only to the New Forest for the diversity of its invertebrates, including many Red Data Book beetles and flies. There is an internationally important population of the violet click beetle. The fungi species are very diverse, including some which are extremely rare.

Woolbeding and Pound Commons

Woolbeding and Pound Commons is a 171.9-hectare (425-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north of Midhurst in West Sussex.The commons have areas of wet and dry heath, woodland, ponds and wet flushes. Invertebrates include a number of Red Data Book species, such as the bee Hylaeus gibbus, the Eumenes coarctatus and Psen bruxellensis wasps and the click-beetle Hylis olexai. The site also provides a habitat for three rare birds, woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler.The site is crossed by roads and footpaths.

Extant Coleoptera families


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