Rove beetle

The rove beetles are a family (Staphylinidae) of beetles,[1] primarily distinguished by their short elytra (wing covers) that typically leave more than half of their abdomens exposed. With roughly 63,000 species in thousands of genera, the group is currently recognized as the largest extant family of beetles. 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.[2] 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.

Rove beetles
Rove beetles of western Eurasia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Suborder: Polyphaga
Infraorder: Staphyliniformia
Superfamily: Staphylinoidea
Family: Staphylinidae
Lameere, 1900


As might be expected for such a large family, considerable variation exists among the species. Sizes range from <1 to 35 mm (1.4 in), with most in the 2–8 mm range, and the form is generally elongated, with some rove beetles being ovoid in shape. Colors range from yellow and red to reddish-brown to brown to black to iridescent blue and green. The antennae usually have 11 segments and are filiform, with moderate clubbing in some genera. The abdomen may be very long and flexible, and some rove beetles superficially resemble earwigs.

Some members of Paederina (specifically the genus Paederus), a subtribe of Paederinae, contain a potent vesicant in their haemolymph that can produce a skin irritation called dermatitis linearis,[3] which in English has acquired the inaccurate name Paederus dermatitis. The irritant pederin is highly toxic, more potent than cobra venom.[4]

Ocypus spec

Ocypus sp.

Tachyporus obtusus01

Tachyporus obtusus

Paederus littoralis01

Paederus littoralis

Cordalia tsavoana Pace, 2008 (2912937616)

Cordalia tsavoana

Taiwanophodes minor

Taiwanophodes minor

Ontholestes tessellatus


Rove beetles are known from every type of habitat in which beetles occur, and their diets include just about everything except the living tissues of higher plants, but now including higher plants with the discovery of the diet of Himalusa thailandensis. Most rove beetles are predators of insects and other invertebrates, living in forest leaf litter and similar decaying plant matter. They are also commonly found under stones, and around freshwater margins. Almost 400 species are known to live on ocean shores that are submerged at high tide,[5] including the pictured rove beetle,[6] although these are much fewer than 1% of the worldwide total of Staphylinidae. Other species have adapted to live as inquilines in ant and termite colonies, and some live in mutualistic relationships with mammals whereby they eat fleas and other parasites, benefiting the host. A few species, notably those of the genus Aleochara, are scavengers and carrion feeders, or are parasitoids of other insects, particularly of certain fly pupae.

Although rove beetles' appetites for other insects would seem to make them obvious candidates for biological control of pests, and empirically they are believed to be important controls in the wild, experiments using them have not been notably successful. Greater success is seen with those species that are parasitoids (genus Aleochara).

Rove beetles of the genus Stenus are very interesting insects. They are specialist predators of small invertebrates such as collembola. Their labium can shoot out from the head using blood pressure. The thin rod of the labium ends in a pad of bristly hairs and hooks and between these hairs are small pores that exude an adhesive glue-like substance, which sticks to prey.[7]


Classification of the 63,650 (as of 2018) staphylinid species is ongoing and controversial, with some workers proposing an organization of as many as 10 separate families, but the current favored system is one of 32 subfamilies, about 167 tribes (some grouped into supertribes), and about 3,200 genera. About 400 new species are being described each year, and some estimates suggest three-quarters of tropical species are as yet undescribed.


  1. ^ Gomes Gonçalves, Marcos Paulo (December 2017). "Relationship Between Meteorological Conditions and Beetles in Mata de Cocal". Revista Brasileira de Meteorologia. 32 (4): 543–554. doi:10.1590/0102-7786324003. ISSN 0102-7786.
  2. ^ Chatzimanolis, Stylianos; Grimaldi, David A.; Engel, Michael S.; Fraser, Nicholas C. (2012). "Leehermania prorova, the Earliest Staphyliniform Beetle, from the Late Triassic of Virginia (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)". American Museum Novitates. 3761 (3761): 1–28. doi:10.1206/3761.2.
  3. ^ Capinera, John L; J. Howard Frank (2008). "Dermatitis linearis". Encyclopedia of entomology. Springer. pp. 1179–. ISBN 978-1-4020-6242-1. The 28 species thus far shown to produce such a toxin belong to three of the 14 genera of Paederina, namely Paederus, Paederidus, and Megalopaederus
  4. ^ "Ectoparasites". Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp. Archived from the original on 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
  5. ^ J.H. Frank & K.-J. Ahn (2011). "Coastal Staphylinidae (Coleoptera): A worldwide checklist, biogeography and natural history". ZooKeys. 107: 1–98. doi:10.3897/zookeys.107.1651. PMC 3392188. PMID 22792029.
  6. ^ P. C. Craig (1970). "The behavior and distribution of the intertidal sand beetle, Thinopinus pictus (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)". Ecology. 51 (6): 1012–1017. doi:10.2307/1933627. JSTOR 1933627.
  7. ^ Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.

Important works

For the Palaearctic fauna, the most up-to-date works are:

  • Lohse, G.A. (1964) Familie: Staphylinidae. In: Freude, H., Harde, K.W. & Lohse, G.A. (Eds.), Die Käfer Mitteleuropas. Band 4, Staphylinidae I (Micropeplinae bis Tachyporinae). Krefeld: Goecke & Evers Verlag, 264 pp.
  • Lohse, G.A. (1974) Familie: Staphylinidae. In: Freude, H., Harde, K.W. & Lohse, G.A. (Eds.), Die Käfer Mitteleuropas. Band 5, Staphylinidae II (Hypocyphtinae und Aleocharinae). Pselaphidae. Krefeld: Goecke & Evers Verlag, 381 pp.
  • Lohse, G.A. (1989) Ergänzungen und Berichtigungen zu Freude-Harde-Lohse "Die Käfer Mitteleuropas" Band 5 (1974), pp. 185–243 In: Lohse, G.A. & Lucht, W.H. (Eds.), Die Käfer Mitteleuropas. 1. Supplementband mit Katalogteil. Krefeld: Goecke & Evers Verlag, pp. 185–243.

Regional works


  • Lott, D.A. (2009). The Staphylinidae (rove beetles) of Britain and Ireland. Part 5: Scaphidiinae, Piestinae, Oxytelinae. Handbooks for the identification of British insects, vol. 12, part 5. St Albans: Royal Entomological Society. British and Irish fauna only
  • Tronquet, M. (2006). Catalogue iconographique des Coléoptères des Pyrénées-Orientales. Vol. 1: Staphylinidae. Supplément au Tome XV de la Revue de l’Association Roussillonnaise d’Entomologie. Perpignan: Association Roussillonnaise d’Entomologie.Extensively illustrated

External links

Articerodes jariyae

Articerodes jariyae is a rove beetle discovered in Thailand in 2008. It was named for Professor Jariya Chanpaisaen, who collaborated on the study that located it. It is closely related to Articerodes ohmomoi and Articerodes thailandicus, discovered during the same study.

Articerodes ohmomoi

Articerodes ohmomoi is a rove beetle discovered in Thailand in 2008. It was named for Dr. Sadahiro Ohmomo, who collected the holotype for the species. It is closely related to Articerodes jariyae and Articerodes thailandicus, discovered during the same study.

Articerodes thailandicus

Articerodes thailandicus is a rove beetle discovered in Thailand in 2008. It was named for Thailand, where it was first discovered. It is closely related to Articerodes jariyae and Articerodes ohmomoi, discovered during the same study.

Bledius annularis

Bledius annularis, or ringed borrow rove beetle, is a species of spiny-legged rove beetle in the family Staphylinidae. It is found in North America.The lectotype for this taxon from a male specimen, collected from Lake Superior, and is housed within the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

Bledius spectabilis

Bledius spectabilis, commonly known as the magnificent salt beetle, is a species of small rove beetle.

Creophilus maxillosus

Creophilus maxillosus belongs to the order Coleoptera and is most commonly referred to as the hairy rove beetle. The rove beetles are a large family, having almost 2,900 species in North America. This species can be found in woods and wherever carrion is found, usually from the spring to autumn months. These active beetles fly swiftly or run rapidly over the ground with the tip of the abdomen raised like a scorpion's stinger. Although a few are known to be parasitic, most rove beetles and their larvae prey upon mites, other insects, and small worms.

Diochus electrus

Diochus electrus is an extinct species of rove beetle in genus Diochus, the only definitive fossil species in subfamily Staphylininae. The species is known only from the middle Eocene, Lutetian stage Baltic amber found in the Blaue Erde deposits, Baltic region, Northern Europe.

Elsworth Wood

Elsworth Wood is a 6.9 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest between Cambourne and Elsworth in Cambridgeshire.This site has three different uncommon types of woodland. It is mainly coppiced field maple, with a varied shrub layer and the ground flora is mainly dog's mercury and bluebells, together with a considerable population of oxlips. There are several nationally uncommon beetles, such as the rove beetle Stichoglossa semirufa.The site is private land with no public access.

List of things named after Charles Darwin

Several places, concepts, institutions, and things are namesakes of the English biologist Charles Darwin:

PlacesCharles Darwin National Park

Charles Darwin Foundation

Charles Darwin Research Station

Charles Darwin University

Darwin College, Cambridge

Darwin, Falkland Islands

Darwin, Northern Territory

Darwin Glacier (California)

Darwin Guyot, a seamount in the Pacific Ocean

Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands

Darwin Island (Antarctica)

Darwin Sound (Canada)

Mount Darwin (California)

Mount Darwin (Tasmania)Things named after Darwin in relation to his Beagle voyageCordillera Darwin

Darwin's finches

Darwin's frog

Darwin Sound

Mount Darwin (Andes)Scientific names of organismsSome 250 species and several higher groups bear Darwin's name; most are insects.

Darwinilus, a rove beetle

Darwinius, an extinct primate

Darwinopterus, a genus of pterosaur

Darwinula, a genus of seed shrimp

Darwinivelia, a water treader genus

Darwinysius, a seed bug

Darwinomya, a genus of flies

Darwinella, a sponge genus

Darwinsaurus, a dinosaur

Darwinhydrus, a diving beetle

darwini (multiple species)

darwinii (multiple species)

Ingerana charlesdarwini, a frogPhilosophiesDarwinism

Social DarwinismOtherDarwin, a unit of evolutionary change

Darwin, an operating system

Darwin (ESA) (a proposed satellite system)

Darwin Awards

Darwin Medal

Darwin fish

Division of Darwin, a former electoral division in Australia

1991 Darwin, a stony Florian asteroid

Darwin (lunar crater) a lunar crater

Darwin (Martian crater) a martian crater


Ocypus is a genus of rove beetle in the subfamily Staphylininae.

Ontholestes cingulatus

Ontholestes cingulatus, known generally as the gold-and-brown rove beetle or carrion beetle, is a species of large rove beetle in the family Staphylinidae.

Pictured rove beetle

The pictured rove beetle (Thinopinus pictus) is a wingless rove beetle which lives on the sandy beaches of the West Coast of the United States from southern Alaska to Baja California. It is nocturnal, emerging at night from temporary sand burrows to feed on beach hoppers (Orchestoidea).


Staphylininae are a subfamily of rove beetles (family Staphylinidae). They contain the typical rove beetles with their long but fairly robust blunt-headed and -tipped bodies and short elytra, as well as some more unusually-shaped lineages.


Tachyporinae is a subfamily of rove beetle. Their common name is Crab-like Rove Beetles. They are generally small, roughly 2.4 to 5 millimeters.There are around 60 species in twelve genera of crab-like rove beetles. All species are fusiform.


Tachyporus is a genus of rove beetle in the tribe Tachyporini. It is the type genus of both the tribe Tachyporini and the subfamily Tachyporinae.The Global Biodiversity Information Facility reports 40 species in this genus, with most collection and observation activity from Europe, but also including records from North American, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.


Termitopaediini is a tribe in the rove beetle subfamily Aleocharinae. Much of it was classified and documented by Kistner in 1977.Below are a list of some of the genera this tribe contains:

Coatonipulex Kistner, 1977




Paratermitopulex Kistner, 1977

Physomilitaris Kistner, 1977











The Devil's Coach Horses

The Devil's Coach Horses is a 1925 essay by J. R. R. Tolkien ("Devil's coach-horse" is a British expression for a particular kind of rove beetle).Tolkien draws attention to the devil's steeds called eaueres in Hali Meidhad, translated "boar" in the Early English Text Society edition of 1922, but in reference to the jumenta "yoked team, draught horse" of Joel (Joel 1:17), in the Vulgata Clementina computruerunt jumenta in stercore suo (the Nova Vulgata has semina for Hebrew פרדח "grain").Rather than from the Old English word for "boar", eofor (German Eber) Tolkien derives the word from eafor "packhorse", from a verb aferian "transport", related to Middle English aver "draught-horse", a word surviving in northern dialects. The Proto-Germanic root *ab- "energy, vigour, labour" of the word is cognate to Latin opus.

Thoracophorus costalis

Thoracophorus costalis, the furrowed rove beetle, is a species of unmargined rove beetle in the family Staphylinidae. It is found in Central America and North America.


Tyrini is a tribe of rove beetle.

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