Michael C. Thomas

Michael C. Thomas (born 1948) is an American entomologist who is co-author of the book series American Beetles.

Born in Miami, Florida, Thomas graduated from the University of South Florida in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts, followed by a Master of Science degree in Entomology from the University of Florida in 1981. Thomas has also received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

From 1986 to 1988, Thomas worked as a Taxonomic Entomologist for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Since 1988, Thomas has worked for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Gainesville as a Taxonomic Entomologist, an Entomology Section Administrator, and a Curator of Coleoptera and Orthoptera. His research interests include the biology and systematics of Cucujidae, and the zoogeography of the Coleoptera of Florida.

Dr. Michael C. Thomas
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Florida
Known forHis research pertaining to American Beetles
Scientific career
InstitutionsFlorida Department of Agriculture


External links


The Aderidae, sometimes called ant-like leaf beetles, are a family of beetles that bear some resemblance to ants. The family consists of about 1,000 species in about 50 genera, of which most are tropical, although overall distribution is worldwide.

As with the Anthicidae, their heads constrict just in front of the pronotum, forming a neck, although the posterior end of the pronotum is not usually as narrow. The eyes are hairy with a granular appearance. The first two abdominal sternites are fused, and in only some groups is a suture even visible. Sizes are 1–4 mm.

As the name suggests, most adults are found on the undersides of the leaves of shrubs and trees, while larvae have found in rotting wood, leaf litter, and nests of other insects.

As of 2002, the last publication of a world catalog of the family was that of Maurice Pic in 1910.

Synonyms of the family include:

Xylophilidae Shuckard 1840

Euglenesidae or Euglenidae Seidlitz 1875

Hylophilidae Pic 1900

American Beetles

American Beetles is the single most comprehensive description of the beetles of North America north of the tropical area of Mexico. It was started by Ross H. Arnett, Jr. as an update of his classic The Beetles of the United States; along with Michael C. Thomas, he enlisted more than 60 specialists to write treatments of each family. The work outlived Arnett, and was published by CRC Press in 2001 (vol. 1) and 2002 (vol. 2).

This is a highly technical book, with extensive references to the literature.

The introduction includes a section on beetle anatomy that introduces all the technical terms used later. The bulk of the content consists of treatments of the 130-odd families known to occur in North America (a couple dozen are not known from North America, and are not described); the descriptive material applies worldwide, and there are brief notes about non-North American family members.

A family treatment consists of a morphological description, including the larvae if known, habits and habitats, status of the classification, a key to the Nearctic genera (and sometimes species, if the family is small), and short treatments of the subtaxa. Every family gets at least one drawing of a member, and larger families may include dozens of drawings illustrating particular characters important for classification. Note that the classification that appears in Volume 1, pp. 10–13, is superseded by a number of changes that appeared in Volume 2 (the relegation of the families Monommatidae, Colydiidae, and Bruchidae to subfamily status, and the revised spelling of Ripiphoridae), and these changes have been incorporated into the List of subgroups of the order Coleoptera.

A handful of color photographs are included in a center section.

Volume 1: Archostemata, Myxophaga, Adephaga, Polyphaga: Staphyliniformia ISBN 0-8493-1925-0

Volume 2: Polyphaga ISBN 0-8493-0954-9


The Anthicidae are a family of beetles that resemble ants. They are sometimes called ant-like flower beetles or ant-like beetles. The family comprises over 3,500 species in about 100 genera.


The Cucujidae, "flat bark beetles," are a family of distinctively flat beetles found worldwide (except Africa and Antarctica) under the bark of dead trees. The family has received considerable taxonomic attention in recent years and now consists of 59 species distributed in four genera.

Included genera are: Cucujus Fabricius, with 14 species and subspecies distributed throughout the Holarctic; Palaestes Perty, 8 spp., Neotropical; Pediacus Shuckard, 31 spp., mostly Holarctic, but extending south into the Neotropics and to Australia; and Platisus Erichson, 5 spp. in Australia and New Zealand.

Cucujidae have elongate parallel-side bodies ranging from 6 to 25 mm in length. Most are brown colored, while others are black, reddish or yellow. Heads are triangular in shape, with filiform to moniliform antennae of 11 antennomeres, and large mandibles. The pronotum is narrower than the head.

Both larvae and adults live under bark, otherwise little is known of their habits. Larvae appear to be predacious The family was formerly larger, with subfamilies Laemophloeinae, Silvaninae, and Passandrinae (and some tenebrionoid genera mixed in), but recent revisions have raised the subfamilies to family status.


Eucinetidae is a family of beetles, notable for their large coxal plates that cover much of the first ventrite of the abdomen, sometimes called plate-thigh beetles. The family is small for beetles, with about 50 species in 11 genera, but are found worldwide.

Adults are generally elliptical in shape, ranging from 0.8 to 4.0 mm in length, and black or brown in color. The head is small and bent underneath.

Eucinetids live in detritus or in fungus-covered tree bark, where both adults and larvae eat various sorts of fungi.

False stag beetle

The false stag beetles (Diphyllostoma) are a group of three species of rare beetles known only from California. Almost nothing is known of their life history beyond that the adults are diurnal and females are flightless; larvae have not been observed.

Their length ranges from 5 to 9 mm; bodies are elongate, with a generally dull brown to reddish-brown color. Both body and legs are covered with longish hairs.

Originally classed with the Lucanidae, Diphyllostoma have a number of characteristics not shared with any other type of stag beetle, and so in 1972 Holloway proposed a separate family Diphyllostomatidae, which has since been accepted.


The Haliplidae are a family of water beetles who swim using an alternating motion of the legs. They are therefore clumsy in water (compared e.g. with the Dytiscidae or Hydrophilidae), and prefer to get around by crawling. The family consists of about 200 species in 5 genera, distributed wherever there is freshwater habitat; it is the only extant member of superfamily Haliploidea. They are also known as crawling water beetles or haliplids.


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.


The Lucaninae comprise the largest subfamily of the stag beetles (Lucanidae).

Characteristics include partial to complete division of the eyes by a canthus, geniculate antennae, and distinctly separated coxae. The body is typically elongated and slightly flattened.


Lutrochidae is a family of water beetles sometimes known as "travertine beetles", since in North America they are common in springs and streams depositing travertine.

They are distinguished by their ovate bodies, 2–6 mm long and yellowish in color, and short antennae in which the first two antennomeres are longer than the others. The larvae are elongate, 4–10 mm in length, with short but well-developed legs.

Both adults and larvae are found in fast-moving water, feeding on algae and wood.

The family is known only from the New World, and consists of 12 species in a single genus Lutrochus, although it is likely that the genus will be divided upon review. The genus has been variously classified under Dryopidae and Limnichidae, but has more recently been given its own family.


Noteridae is a family of water beetles closely related to the Dytiscidae, and formerly classified with them. They are mainly distinguished by the presence of a distinctive "noterid platform" underneath, in the form of a plate between the second and third pair of legs. The family consists of about 230 species in 14 genera, and is found worldwide, more commonly in the tropics. They are sometimes referred to as burrowing water beetles.

These beetles are relatively small, ranging from 1 to 5 mm, with smooth oval bodies ranging from light brown to a darker reddish brown. The head is short and somewhat covered by the prothorax.

Both adults and larvae are aquatic, and are commonly found around plants. They have a habit of burrowing through pond and marsh substrate, thus the common name, and are primarily carnivorous, with some scavenging observed.


The beetle family Phengodidae is known also as glowworm beetles, whose larvae are known as glowworms. The females and larvae have bioluminescent organs. They occur throughout the New World from extreme southern Canada to Chile. The family Rhagophthalmidae, an Old World group, used to be included in the Phengodidae.

Larval and larviform female glowworms 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, as in railroad worms.

This family is distinct from the fireflies (family Lampyridae), which may also be called "glow-worms" in its larval stage. It also apparently includes the long-lipped beetles, which are only differentiated from phengodids by the unusual modifications of their mouthparts – it appears that Phengodidae is paraphyletic if the long-lipped beetles were treated as a family Telegeusidae.


Rhysodidae (sometimes called wrinkled bark beetles) is a family of beetles, consisting of more than 350 species in about 20 genera.

These beetles are elongate, in size ranging from 5–8 mm, and color ranging from a reddish brown to black. Both the thorax and the elytra are deeply grooved lengthwise, thus giving these beetles their common name. The head is also grooved, and posteriorly constricted into a short but visible "neck". The 11-segment antennae are short, resembling a string of beads, while the mandibles lack cutting edges and are thus nonfunctional. The front legs are short and strongly built,

Adults and larvae live in moist rotten wood that is infested with slime moulds, which are believed to be their diet. Instead of using their mandibles to bite, they use the anterior edge of the mentum and swivel their heads to cut off pieces of food. Adults do not make burrows, instead just squeezing between the cell layers of the decomposed wood, generally leaving no visible trace of their passage, while larvae live in short tunnels.

They occur on all continents with forested areas, the richest fauna being found in New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and northern South America.

Classification remains controversial, with specialist Ross T. Bell arguing for placement as a tribe Rhysodini of Carabidae, while R. G. Beutel and others argue that larval characteristics indicate that rhysodids are their own family. Recent DNA analysis supports the placement of Rhysodidae within the family Carabidae.The following genera have generally been treated as members of the family Rhysodidae, but are now sometimes considered members of Carabidae instead.

Arrowina Bell & Bell, 1978 (Palearctic, Indomalaya)

Clinidium Kirby 1835

Dhysores Grouvelle 1903 (Africa)

Grouvellina Bell & Bell 1978 (Madagascar, Comoros)

Kaveinga Bell & Bell 1978 (Australasia)

Kupeus Bell & Bell 1982 (New Zealand)

Leoglymmius Bell & Bell, 1978 (Australia)

Medisores Bell & Bell, 1987 (South Africa)

Neodhysores Bell & Bell 1978 (South America)

Omoglymmius Ganglbauer, 1891

Plesioglymmius Bell & Bell, 1978

Rhysodes Germar 1822 (Paleac)

Rhyzodiastes Fairmaire 1895

Shyrodes Grouvelle, 1903 (Indomalaya)

Sloanoglymmius Bell & Bell, 1991 (Australia)

Srimara Bell & Bell, 1978 (Vietnam)

Tangarona Bell & Bell 1982 (New Zealand)

Xhosores Bell & Bell, 1978 (South Africa)

Yamatosa Bell & Bell, 1979

Rove beetle

The rove beetles are a family (Staphylinidae) of beetles, primarily distinguished by their short elytra (wing covers) that typically leave more than half of their abdominal segments exposed. With roughly 63,000 species in thousands of genera, the group is currently recognized as the largest extant family of organisms. It is an ancient group, with fossilized rove beetles known from the Triassic, 200 million years ago, and possibly even earlier if the genus Leehermania proves to be a member of this family. They are an ecologically and morphologically diverse group of beetles, and commonly encountered in terrestrial ecosystems.

One well-known species is the devil's coach horse beetle. For some other species, see list of British rove beetles.


Scydmaeninae are a subfamily of small beetles, commonly called ant-like stone beetles or scydmaenines. These beetles occur worldwide, and the subfamily includes some 4,500 species in about 80 genera. Established as a family, they were reduced in status to a subfamily of Staphylinidae in 2009 Many scydmaenine species have a narrowing between head and thorax and thorax and abdomen, resulting in a passing resemblance to ants that inspires their common name. The largest measure just 3 millimeters long, while some very small species only reach half a millimeter in length. Scydmaenids typically live in leaf litter and rotting logs in forests, preferring moist habitats. A number of types are known to feed on oribatid mites, using "hole scraping" and "cutting" techniques to get through the mite's hard shells.

In addition to the two living subfamilies, the prehistoric subfamily Hapsomelinae, known only from fossils, has been placed here.


Sphaerites is a genus of beetles, the only genus in the family Sphaeritidae, sometimes called the false clown beetles. It is closely related to the clown beetles but with distinct characteristics. There are five known species, widespread in temperate area but not commonly seen.

Adults range in length from 4.5–7 mm, with oval bodies, black but with a slight bluish-green sheen.

The life histories are poorly known, but they are generally found around decaying matter and fungi. S. glabratus is associated with conifer forests in northern Europe, and seems especially attracted to sap flows from trees, feeding and then mating.


Sphaerius is a genus of beetles, comprising 23 species, which are the only members of the family Sphaeriusidae. They are typically found along the edges of streams and rivers, where they feed on algae; they occur on all continents except Antarctica. Three species occur in the United States.

The overall form of the beetle is convex, glossy, dark brown or black with some markings possible. The head is prominent, with relatively large eyes set far apart, and capitate antennae. Total length ranges from 0.5–1.2 mm.

The beetles occur in a variety of damp environments, including mud, under stones, among plant roots and leaf litter, and in mosses in bogs. They store some air underneath their elytra.

Females produce a single large egg at a time.

The family used to be known as "Sphaeriidae", but the name was preoccupied by a family of freshwater clams. The name was inappropriately replaced with "Microsporidae" (by changing the genus name to Microsporus), but this act has been superseded by a return to the use of Sphaerius and a reformation of the family name as Sphaeriusidae. The position of the family within Coleoptera has also changed a number of times.

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.


The Trachypachidae (or sometimes false ground beetles) are a family of beetles that generally resemble small ground beetles, but that are distinguished by the large coxae of their rearmost legs. There are only six known extant species in the family, with four species of Trachypachus found in northern Eurasia and northern North America, and two species of Systolosoma in Chile. They were much more diverse in the past, with many members belonging to the extinct subfamily Eodromeinae, the first fossils known of this family are of the genera Petrodromeus and Permunda from the Permian-Triassic boundary of Russia.Their habits are similar to those of the ground beetles; they are usually found in the leaf litter of conifer forests.

To quote G. E. Ball, "the most interesting thing about this small family is its uncertain phylogenetic relationships"; it has been classified as a subfamily of Carabidae, and as a family been placed in several different positions relative to other beetle families.


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