The Lymexylidae (historically often spelled Lymexylonidae), also known as ship-timber beetles, are a family of wood-boring beetles. Lymexylidae belong to the suborder Polyphaga and are the sole member of the superfamily Lymexyloidea.

Ship-timber beetles
Lymexylon navale
Lymexylon navale
Scientific classification

Fleming, 1821
Hylecoetus dermestoides (Lymexylidae), ♀ - Buchenwerftkäfer (10052316356)
An adult Lymexylon navale

Habitat and behavior

Beetle bird (4063595266)
Example of an infested tree

Lymexylon, Elateroides, and Melittomma are pests to forest trees such as chestnut, poplar, and oak, and can be found worldwide. Some species are parasitic, causing decay in living trees and damaging timber structures such as houses and ships. Wood boring activities occur primarily in the larva stage, with the larvae damaging both sapwood and heartwood. Lymexylidae larvae bore into living and decaying wood (e.g. Chestnut, Populus, and Oak) where they consume the fungus Endomyces hylecoeti.[1]

Symbiotic relationship with fungi

Lymexylidae larvae have a symbiotic association with certain types of fungi. The fungi grow in sheltered environments where they are tended by the larvae, such as the holes burrowed into the wood and, in return, the larvae feed on the fungi.[2]

Elateroides dermestoides lays eggs into boreholes of bark beetles on a fallen beech

Specifically, this species has evolved a relationship with the yeast-like fungus Endomyces hylecoeti. Every egg the female lays is coated with fungal spores from a pouch near her ovipositor. The larvae hatch and subsequently collect some of the spores by remaining close to the egg shells for a period of time, before tunneling further into the wood. The fungi grow on the tunnel walls created by the larvae. The larvae then consume the fungus, rather than the wood itself. As the fungi require air flow to grow, the larvae ensure the tunnels are free of any debris.[3]

Species and Genera

Lymexylidae contain the following genera:[4]

There are over 60 species in these genera, including:

  • The ship timber beetle, Lymexylon navale
  • Two species are located in Eastern US and Canada: the sapwood timberworm Elateroides lugubris (Say) and the chestnut timberworm, Melittomma sericeum


Adult morphology:

  • 5–40 mm (0.20–1.6 in) long; elongate to slender, parallel-sided, vestiture consisting of fine setae; conspicuously necked to not necked; somewhat waisted.
  • Head short, typically narrowed behind large protruding eyes forming a slight neck; surface punctate, with or without epicranial pit.
  • Antennae short 11-segmented, filiform/serrate and often sexually dimorphic.
  • Maxillary palpi 4-segmented, simple in most females, and with apical segment modified into a complex flabellate or plumose organ in males-palporgan.
  • Tarsi 5-5-5 with legs slender, moderately long.
  • Hind-leg coxae extending laterally to meet the elytra (Lymexylon), or not markedly extended laterally (Elateroides).
  • Elytra individually tapered to their apices to not individually tapered; fairly short, exposing several terminal abdominal 1-3 tergites; all articulated and moveable.
  • Wings with fairly complete venation, radial cell short or absent.

Immature Morphology:

  • Whitish-yellow, elongate, thin, cylindrical with short but well developed legs.
  • Prognathous, stemmata absent or present may have eye spots.
  • Abdominal modifications found in older larvae.


The superfamily Lymexyloidea is currently within series Cucujoidea. The internal phylogeny has not been clearly understood/completed by experts. Morphological data places the family inside the Tenebrionoidea, while molecular data place it as sister taxon to Tenebrionoidea, and polyphyletic.

See also


  1. ^ Caroline S. Chaboo (2015), "Beetles (Coleoptera) of Peru: A Survey of the Families. Lymexylidae Fleming, 1821", Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 88 (2): 258–259, doi:10.2317/kent-88-02-258-259.1
  2. ^ Casari, Sônia A.; Teixeira, Édson Possidônio (2011). "Larva of Atractocerus brasiliensis (Lepeletier & Audinet-Serville, 1825) (Lymexylidae, Atractocerinae)". Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia (São Paulo). 51 (12): 197–205. doi:10.1590/S0031-10492011001200001. ISSN 0031-1049.
  3. ^ Ross Piper (2007). Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals. Greenwood Press.
  4. ^ Lymexylidae Species List at Joel Hallan's Biology Catalog. Texas A&M University. Retrieved on 17 May 2012.


  • Arnett, Ross H., et al., eds. American Beetles: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea. Vol. 2. CRC Press, 2002: 261-262. EBSCO printed on Sept. 21,2013.
  • Casari, S.A. and Albertoni, F.F., (2013). First Instar Larva of Atractocerus brasiliensis (Lepeletier & Audinet-Serville, 1825) (Lymexylidae, Atractocerinae). Volume 53(27): 359‑372.
  • Kundrata, R., Bocakova, M., & Bocak, L. (2014). The comprehensive phylogeny of the superfamily Elateroidea (Coleoptera: Elateriformia). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 76, 162-171.
  • Triplehorn, Charles A., Norman F. Johnson, and Donald J. Borror. Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects. Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole, 2005.
  • Wheeler, Q. D. (1986). Revision of the genera of Lymexylidae (Coleoptera: Cucujiformia). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 183:113-210.

External links


Atractocerus is a genus of beetles in the family Lymexylidae. The most recent revision of the family treats several small or monotypic genera as synonyms of Atractocerus, though some authors continue to use the older generic names (e.g.).


Australymexylon is a genus of beetles in the family Lymexylidae, containing the following species:

Australymexylon australe Erichson, 1842

Australymexylon fuscipenne (Lea, 1912)


The Boridae are a small family of beetles with no vernacular common name, though recent authors have coined the name conifer bark beetles.


Callirhipidae is a family of beetles in the superfamily Byrrhoidea. It was described by Emden in 1924.


Cavognathidae is a family of beetles, in the suborder Polyphaga.


The Chalcodryidae are a family of beetles in the large suborder Polyphaga.


Chelonariidae or turtle beetles is a family of beetles in the superfamily Byrrhoidea. It was described by Blanchard in 1845.


Elateroides is a genus of rarely found beetles in the family Lymexylidae, containing the following species:

Elateroides dermestoides (Linnaeus, 1761)

Elateroides flabellicornis (Schneider, 1791)

Elateroides lugubris (Say, 1835)

Elateroides nigrocephalus

Elateroides reitteri

Elateroides stoeckleini


Histeroidea is a superfamily of beetles in the infraorder Staphyliniformia.


Hobartiidae is a family of beetles, in the suborder Polyphaga.

List of subgroups of the order Coleoptera

This article classifies the subgroups of the order Coleoptera (beetles) down to the level of families, following the system in "Family-group names in Coleoptera (Insecta)", Bouchard, et. al. (2011), with common names from

Order Coleoptera

Suborder †Protocoleoptera

Superfamily †Tshekardocoleoidea Rohdendorf, 1944

Family †Tshekardocoleidae Rohdendorf, 1944

Family †Labradorocoleidae Ponomarenko, 1969

Family †Oborocoleidae Kukalová, 1969

Superfamily †Permocupedoidea Martynov, 1933

Family †Permocupedidae Martynov, 1933

Family †Taldycupedidae Rohdendorf, 1961

Superfamily †Permosynoidea Tillyard, 1924

Family †Ademosynidae Ponomarenko, 1968

Family †Permosynidae Tillyard, 1924

Suborder Archostemata

Family Crowsoniellidae Iablokoff-Khnzorian, 1983

Family Cupedidae Laporte, 1836

Family Micromalthidae Barber, 1913 (telephone-pole beetle)

Family Ommatidae Sharp and Muir, 1912

Family Jurodidae Ponomarenko, 1985

Family †Triadocupedidae Ponomarenko, 1966

Family †Magnocoleidae Hong, 1998

Family †Obrieniidae Zherikhin and Gratshev, 1994

Suborder Myxophaga

Superfamily †Asiocoleoidea Rohdendorf, 1961

Family †Asiocoleidae Rohdendorf, 1961

Family †Tricoleidae Ponomarenko, 1969

Superfamily †Rhombocoleoidea Rohdendorf, 1961

Family †Rhombocoleidae Rohdendorf, 1961

Superfamily †Schizophoroidea Ponomarenko, 1968

Family †Schizophoridae Ponomarenko, 1968

Family †Catiniidae Ponomarenko, 1968

Family †Schizocoleidae Rohdendorf, 1961

Superfamily Lepiceroidea Hinton, 1936 (1882)

Family Lepiceridae Hinton, 1936 (1882)

Superfamily Sphaeriusoidea Erichson, 1845

Family Torridincolidae Steffan, 1964

Family Hydroscaphidae LeConte, 1874

Family Sphaeriusidae Erichson, 1845

Suborder Adephaga

Family †Tritarsidae Hong, 2002

Family Gyrinidae Latreille, 1810 (whirligig beetles)

Family Trachypachidae Thomson, 1857 (false ground beetles)

Family Rhysodidae Laporte, 1840

Family Carabidae Latreille, 1802 (ground beetles)

Family Haliplidae Aubé, 1836 (crawling water beetles)

Family †Triaplidae Ponomarenko, 1977

Family †Colymbotethidae Ponomarenko, 1994

Family †Parahygrobiidae Ponomarenko, 1977

Family †Coptoclavidae Ponomarenko, 1961

Family †Liadytidae Ponomarenko, 1977

Family Meruidae Spangler and Steiner, 2005

Family Noteridae Thomson, 1860 (burrowing water beetles)

Family Amphizoidae LeConte, 1853

Family Aspidytidae Ribera, Beutel, Balke and Vogler, 2002

Family Hygrobiidae Régimbart, 1879 (1837)

Family Dytiscidae Leach, 1815 (predaceous diving beetles)

Suborder Polyphaga

Infraorder Staphyliniformia

Superfamily Hydrophiloidea Latreille, 1802

Family Hydrophilidae Latreille, 1802 (water scavenger beetles)

Family Sphaeritidae Shuckard, 1839

Family Synteliidae Lewis, 1882

Family Histeridae Gyllenhal, 1808

Superfamily Staphylinoidea Latreille, 1802

Family Hydraenidae Mulsant, 1844

Family Ptiliidae Erichson, 1845

Family Agyrtidae Thomson, 1859

Family Leiodidae Fleming, 1821

Family Silphidae Latreille, 1806

Family Staphylinidae Latreille, 1802 (rove beetles)

Infraorder Scarabaeiformia

Superfamily Scarabaeoidea Latreille, 1802

Family Pleocomidae LeConte, 1861 (rain beetles)

Family Geotrupidae Latreille, 1802 (earth-boring scarab beetles)

Family Belohinidae Paulian, 1959

Family Passalidae Leach, 1815 (bess beetles)

Family Trogidae MacLeay, 1819 (hide beetles)

Family Glaresidae Kolbe, 1905

Family Diphyllostomatidae Holloway, 1972

Family Lucanidae Latreille, 1804 (stag beetles)

Family Ochodaeidae Mulsant and Rey, 1871 (sand-loving scarab beetles)

Family Hybosoridae Erichson, 1847

Family Glaphyridae MacLeay, 1819 (bumble bee scarab beetles)

Family Scarabaeidae Latreille, 1802 (scarab beetles)

Family †Coprinisphaeridae Genise, 2004

Family †Pallichnidae Genise, 2004

Infraorder Elateriformia

Superfamily Scirtoidea Fleming, 1821

Family Decliniidae Nikitsky, Lawrence, Kirejtshuk and Gratshev, 1994

Family Eucinetidae Lacordaire, 1857

Family Clambidae Fischer von Waldheim, 1821

Family Scirtidae Fleming, 1821

Family †Elodophthalmidae Kirejtshuk and Azar, 2008

Family †Mesocinetidae Kirejtshuk and Ponomarenko, 2010

Superfamily Dascilloidea Guérin-Méneville, 1843 (1834)

Family Dascillidae Guérin-Méneville, 1843 (1834)

Family Rhipiceridae Latreille, 1834

Superfamily Buprestoidea Leach, 1815

Family Schizopodidae LeConte, 1859

Family Buprestidae Leach, 1815

Superfamily Byrrhoidea Latreille, 1804

Family Byrrhidae Latreille, 1804

Family Elmidae Curtis, 1830

Family Dryopidae Billberg, 1820 (1817)

Family Lutrochidae Kasap and Crowson, 1975

Family Limnichidae Erichson, 1846

Family Heteroceridae MacLeay, 1825

Family Psephenidae Lacordaire, 1854

Family Cneoglossidae Champion, 1897

Family Ptilodactylidae Laporte, 1836

Family Podabrocephalidae Pic, 1930

Family Chelonariidae Blanchard, 1845

Family Eulichadidae Crowson, 1973

Family Callirhipidae Emden, 1924

Superfamily Elateroidea Leach, 1815

Family Rhinorhipidae Lawrence, 1988

Family Artematopodidae Lacordaire, 1857

Family Brachypsectridae LeConte and Horn, 1883

Family Cerophytidae Latreille, 1834

Family Eucnemidae Eschscholtz, 1829

Family Throscidae Laporte, 1840 nomen protectum

Family †Praelateriidae Dolin, 1973

Family Elateridae Leach, 1815 (click beetles)

Family Plastoceridae Crowson, 1972

Family Drilidae Blanchard, 1845

Family Omalisidae Lacordaire, 1857

Family †Berendtimiridae Winkler, 1987

Family Lycidae Laporte, 1836

Family Telegeusidae Leng, 1920

Family Phengodidae LeConte, 1861

Family Rhagophthalmidae Olivier, 1907

Family Lampyridae Rafinesque, 1815 (fireflies)

Family Omethidae LeConte, 1861

Family Cantharidae Imhoff, 1856 (1815) (soldier beetles)

Infraorder Bostrichiformia

Superfamily Derodontoidea LeConte, 1861

Family Derodontidae LeConte, 1861

Family Nosodendridae Erichson, 1846

Family Jacobsoniidae Heller, 1926

Superfamily Bostrichoidea Latreille, 1802

Family Dermestidae Latreille, 1804 (carpet beetles)

Family Endecatomidae LeConte, 1861

Family Bostrichidae Latreille, 1802

Family Ptinidae Latreille, 1802

Infraorder Cucujiformia

Superfamily Lymexyloidea Fleming, 1821

Family Lymexylidae Fleming, 1821

Superfamily Cleroidea Latreille, 1802

Family Phloiophilidae Kiesenwetter, 1863

Family Trogossitidae Latreille, 1802

Family Chaetosomatidae Crowson, 1952

Family Metaxinidae Kolibáč, 2004

Family Thanerocleridae Chapin, 1924

Family Cleridae Latreille, 1802 (checkered beetles)

Family Acanthocnemidae Crowson, 1964

Family Phycosecidae Crowson, 1952

Family Prionoceridae Lacordaire, 1857

Family Mauroniscidae Majer, 1995

Family Melyridae Leach, 1815 (soft-winged flower beetles)

Superfamily Cucujoidea Latreille, 1802

Family †Parandrexidae Kirejtshuk, 1994

Family †Sinisilvanidae Hong, 2002

Family Boganiidae Sen Gupta and Crowson, 1966

Family Byturidae Gistel, 1848

Family Helotidae Chapuis, 1876

Family Protocucujidae Crowson, 1954

Family Sphindidae Jacquelin du Val, 1860

Family Biphyllidae LeConte, 1861

Family Erotylidae Latreille, 1802

Family Monotomidae Laporte, 1840

Family Hobartiidae Sen Gupta and Crowson, 1966

Family Cryptophagidae Kirby, 1826

Family Agapythidae Sen Gupta and Crowson, 1969

Family Priasilphidae Crowson, 1973

Family Phloeostichidae Reitter, 1911

Family Silvanidae Kirby, 1837

Family Cucujidae Latreille, 1802

Family Myraboliidae Lawrence and Britton, 1991

Family Cavognathidae Sen Gupta and Crowson, 1966

Family Lamingtoniidae Sen Gupta and Crowson, 1969

Family Passandridae Blanchard, 1845

Family Phalacridae Leach, 1815

Family Propalticidae Crowson, 1952

Family Laemophloeidae Ganglbauer, 1899

Family Tasmosalpingidae Lawrence and Britton, 1991

Family Cyclaxyridae Gimmel, Leschen and Ślipiński, 2009

Family Kateretidae Kirby, 1837

Family Nitidulidae Latreille, 1802

Family Smicripidae Horn, 1880

Family Bothrideridae Erichson, 1845

Family Cerylonidae Billberg, 1820

Family Alexiidae Imhoff, 1856

Family Discolomatidae Horn, 1878

Family Endomychidae Leach, 1815

Family Coccinellidae Latreille, 1807 (ladybirds or lady beetles)

Family Corylophidae LeConte, 1852

Family Akalyptoischiidae Lord, Hartley, Lawrence, McHugh and Miller, 2010

Family Latridiidae Erichson, 1842

Superfamily Tenebrionoidea Latreille, 1802

Family Mycetophagidae Leach, 1815

Family Archeocrypticidae Kaszab, 1964

Family Pterogeniidae Crowson, 1953

Family Ciidae Leach, 1819

Family Tetratomidae Billberg, 1820

Family Melandryidae Leach, 1815

Family Mordellidae Latreille, 1802 (tumbling flower beetles)

Family Ripiphoridae Gemminger, 1870 (1855)

Family Zopheridae Solier, 1834

Family Ulodidae Pascoe, 1869

Family Promecheilidae Lacordaire, 1859

Family Chalcodryidae Watt, 1974

Family Trachelostenidae Lacordaire, 1859

Family Tenebrionidae Latreille, 1802 (darkling beetles)

Family Prostomidae Thomson, 1859

Family Synchroidae Lacordaire, 1859

Family Stenotrachelidae Thomson, 1859

Family Oedemeridae Latreille, 1810

Family Meloidae Gyllenhal, 1810 (blister beetles)

Family Mycteridae Oken, 1843 (palm beetles and flower beetles)

Family Boridae Thomson, 1859

Family Trictenotomidae Blanchard, 1845

Family Pythidae Solier, 1834

Family Pyrochroidae Latreille, 1806

Family Salpingidae Leach, 1815

Family Anthicidae Latreille, 1819

Family Aderidae Csiki, 1909

Family Scraptiidae Gistel, 1848

Clade Phytophaga

Superfamily Chrysomeloidea Latreille, 1802

Family Oxypeltidae Lacordaire, 1868

Family Vesperidae Mulsant, 1839

Family Disteniidae Thomson, 1861

Family Cerambycidae Latreille, 1802 (longhorn beetles)

Family Megalopodidae Latreille, 1802

Family Orsodacnidae Thomson, 1859

Family Chrysomelidae Latreille, 1802 (leaf beetles)

Superfamily Curculionoidea Latreille, 1802

Family Nemonychidae Bedel, 1882

Family Anthribidae Billberg, 1820

Family †Ulyanidae Zherikhin, 1993

Family Belidae Schönherr, 1826

Family Caridae Thompson, 1992

Family Attelabidae Billberg, 1820

Family Brentidae Billberg, 1820

Family Dryophthoridae Schönherr, 1825

Family Brachyceridae Billberg, 1820

Family Curculionidae Latreille, 1802 (snout beetles, weevils, and bark beetles)


Lymexylon is a genus of beetles in the family Lymexylidae, containing the following species:

Lymexylon amamianum Kurosawa, 1985

Lymexylon miyakei Nakane, 1985

Lymexylon navale (Linnaeus, 1758)

Lymexylon persicum Fursov, 1935

Lymexylon ruficolle Kurosawa, 1949


Melittomma is a genus of beetles in the family Lymexylidae, containing the following species:

Melittomma africanum (Thomson, 1858)

Melittomma albitarse Blair, 1936

Melittomma auberti Fairmaire, 1891

Melittomma benitonum Fairmaire, 1901

Melittomma brasiliense (Laporte, 1832)

Melittomma brunneum Fonseca & Vieira, 2001

Melittomma coomani Pic, 1945

Melittomma javanicum (Chevrolat, 1829)

Melittomma lateritium Fairmaire, 1887

Melittomma marginellum Schenkling, 1914

Melittomma nanum Fonseca & Vieira, 2001

Melittomma oculare (Nakane, 1963)

Melittomma panamense Fonseca & Vieira, 2001

Melittomma perrieri Fairmaire, 1901

Melittomma pervagum (Olliff, 1889)

Melittomma pilzi Orozco & Díaz, 2018Melittomma pubicolle Pic, 1944

Melittomma sericeum (Harris, 1841)

Melittomma sicardi Pic, 1939b

Melittomma vigilans (Lea, 1912)

Melittomma sericeum

Melittomma sericeum, the chestnut timberworm, is a species of ship-timber beetle in the family Lymexylidae. It is found in North America.


Melittommopsis is a genus of beetles in the family Lymexylidae, containing the following species:

Melittommopsis abdominalis (Pic, 1936)

Melittommopsis juquiensis Lane, 1955

Melittommopsis nigra Lane, 1955

Melittommopsis ruficollis (Pic, 1936)

Melittommopsis valida (Schenkling, 1914)


Protomelittomma insulare is a species of beetle in the family Lymexylidae, the only species in the genus Protomelittomma.


The Synchroidae are a small family of beetles with no vernacular common name, though recent authors have coined the name synchroa bark beetles. The family consists of three extant genera, Mallodrya, Synchroa, and Synchroina, with a total of nine species.

Telephone-pole beetle

The telephone-pole beetle (Micromalthus debilis) is a beetle native to the eastern United States, and the only living representative of the otherwise extinct family Micromalthidae (i.e., a "living fossil"). Classification of M. debilis was historically controversial and unsettled. The species, first reported by John Lawrence LeConte in 1878, was long considered one of the Polyphaga, and placed in the Lymexylidae or Telegeusidae, or as a family within the Cantharoidea. However, characteristics of larvae, wings, and male genitalia show that it is in the suborder Archostemata, where it has been placed since 1999.The beetle is elongated, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 mm in length, and a dark brown to blackish color, with brownish-yellow legs and antennae. The head is larger than the thorax, with large eyes protruding from either side. The larvae are wood-borers that feed on moist and decaying chestnut and oak logs. They have also been reported as causing damage to buildings and poles (hence the name). The life cycle is unusual in that the cerambycoid stage of the larva can either develop into an adult female, or give birth to caraboid larvae. The species has been spread to various parts of the world by human commerce, probably in timber.

Reports of the species are infrequent and it is unknown whether they are rare, or common and unrecognized. A recent study by Bertone et al 2016 found telephone-pole beetles in a survey of the indoor arthropod fauna in 50 houses located in and around Raleigh, North Carolina.


Urtea graeca is a species of beetles in the family Lymexylidae, the only species in the genus Urtea.

Extant Coleoptera families


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