Polyphaga is the largest and most diverse suborder of beetles. It comprises 144 families in 16 superfamilies, and displays an enormous variety of specialization and adaptation, with over 300,000 described species, or approximately 90% of the beetle species so far discovered.

Key characteristics of Polyphaga are that the hind coxa (base of the leg), does not divide the first and second abdominal/ventral plates which are known as sternites. Also, the notopleural suture (found under the pronotal shield) is not present.[1]

Cetonia aurata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Suborder: Polyphaga
Emery, 1886



The name of polyphaga is derived from two Greek words: poly-, meaning 'many', and phagein, meaning 'to eat', so the suborder is called the “eaters of many things”.


The five infraorders are:

The internal classification of Polyphaga involves several superfamilies or series, whose constituents are relatively stable, although some smaller families (whose rank even is disputed) are allocated to different clades by different authors. Large superfamilies include Hydrophiloidea, Staphylinoidea, Scarabaeoidea, Buprestoidea, Byrrhoidea, Elateroidea, and Bostrichoidea.

The infraorder Cucujiformia includes the vast majority of phytophagous (plant-eating) beetles, united by cryptonephric Malpighian tubules of the normal type, a cone ommatidium with open rhabdom, and lack of functional spiracles on the eighth abdominal segment. Constituent superfamilies of Cucujiformia are Cleroidea, Cucujoidea, Tenebrionoidea, Chrysomeloidea, and Curculionoidea. Evidently adoption of a phytophagous lifestyle correlates with taxon diversity in beetles, with Cucujiformia, especially weevils (Curculionoidea), forming a major radiation.

See also


  1. ^ Johnson, Norman F.; Triplehorn, Charles A. (2004). Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects (7th ed.). Belmont: Brooks/Cole. pp. 365–400, 428–429. ISBN 0-03-096835-6.
  • Peter S. Cranston and Penny J. Gullan, University of California,Phylogeny of Insects, page 893.

External links


Bostrichiformia is an infraorder of polyphagan beetles.

It contains two superfamilies, Derodontoidea and Bostrichoidea, which includes the Dermestidae, Ptinidae, Bostrichidae and others.


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


Cneoglossidae is a family of beetles, in the large suborder Polyphaga.

It contains nine species in a single genus:

Genus Cneoglossa Guérin-Méneville, 1843

Cneoglossa brevis Champion, 1897

Cneoglossa collaris Guérin-Méneville, 1849

Cneoglossa elongata Pic, 1916

Cneoglossa gournellei Pic, 1916

Cneoglossa lampyroides Champion, 1897

Cneoglossa longipennis (Pic, 1915)

Cneoglossa peruviana Pic, 1916

Cneoglossa rufifrons Pic, 1916

Cneoglossa testacericollis Pic, 1916


Corylophidae is a family of minute hooded beetles, sometimes called minute fungus beetles, in the order Coleoptera. There are about 18 genera and at least 120 described species in Corylophidae.


Dascillidae is a family of soft-bodied plant beetles in the order Coleoptera. There are at least two genera and about five described species in Dascillidae.ITIS Taxonomic notes:

Lawrence and Newton (1995) give the authorship for this family as 'Guérin Méneville, 1843 (1834)'.


Decliniidae is a family of beetles in the large suborder Polyphaga. It contains the single genus Declinia with two species,

Declinia relicta Nikitsky, Lawrence, Kirejtshuk, Gratshev 1994

and D. versicolor Sakai, Sato 1996, found in far eastern Russia and Japan.


Elmidae, commonly known as riffle beetles, is a family of beetles in the superfamily Byrrhoidea described by John Curtis in 1830. There are more than 150 genera and 1,500 described species in Elmidae.


Eulichadidae is a family of forest stream beetles in the order Coleoptera. There are about 5 genera and more than 40 described species in Eulichadidae.


Georissus, also called minute mud-loving beetles, is the only genus in the beetle family Georissidae (or Georyssidae). They are tiny insects living in wet soil, often near water. Found on every continent except Antarctica.


Histeroidea is a superfamily of beetles in the infraorder Staphyliniformia.


Hydrophiloidea is a superfamily of beetles. Until recently it was only a single family, the water scavenger beetles (Hydrophilidae), but several of the subfamilies have been removed and raised to family rank.

The present list of recognized families is thus:


Georissidae (= Georyssidae)




Spercheidae (= Sphaeridiidae)The Histeroidea seem to be very closely related and may be part of an extended Hydrophiloidea clade; some researchers have proposed merging the two superfamilies into one.


Limnichidae is a family of minute marsh-loving beetles in the order Coleoptera. There are at least 30 genera and 350 described species in Limnichidae.


The Lycidae are a family in the beetle order Coleoptera, members of which are commonly called net-winged beetles. These beetles are cosmopolitan, being found in Nearctic, Palearctic, Neotropical, Afrotropical, Oriental, and Australian ecoregions.


Mordellinae is a subfamily of beetles commonly known as tumbling flower beetles for the typical irregular movements they make when escaping predators, or as pintail beetles due to their abdominal tip which aids them in performing these tumbling movements.


Ptilodactylidae is a family of toe-winged beetles in the order Coleoptera. There are about 6 genera and 15 described species in Ptilodactylidae.


Rhipiceridae is a family of cedar beetles, also known as cicada parasite beetles, in the order Coleoptera. There are about 7 genera and 20 described species in Rhipiceridae.


Schizopodidae is a family of beetles, in the large suborder Polyphaga. It was a subfamily until 1991, when it was elevated to family status.The family of Schizopodidae is a part of the superfamily, Buprestoidea, which is a member of the suborder of polyphaga beetles, defined by the coxa not being fused to the thorax. Buprestoidea contains bullet-shaped beetles, known for their distinctive metallic colors. Little is known about Schizopodidae, but the adults are often found clinging to plants.

The family contains the following genera:

Dystaxia LeConte, 1866

†Electrapate Iablokoff-Khnzorian, 1962

Glyptoscelimorpha Horn, 1893

†Mesoschizopus Cai et al., 2015

Schizopus LeConte, 1858


Staphyliniformia is a large infraorder of beetles. It contains over 60,000 described species from all regions of the world. Most species occur in moist habitats - various kinds of rotting plant debris, fungi, dung, carrion, many live in fresh water.


Syntelia is a genus of middle-sized beetles, the only genus in the family Synteliidae.

The characteristics of the family and genus include geniculate antennae with 3-segmented club, elongate body, narrowly separated coxae and tarsi with bisetose empodia. Only one abdominal segment is exposed behind elytra. There are seven known species, spread in central Mexico and Asia. They feed on insect larvae.

Extant Coleoptera families


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