|Alphitobius sp. (Tenebrioninae: Alphitobiini)
Scale bar (top right) is 2 millimeters
Darkling beetles are a family of beetles found worldwide, estimated at more than 20,000 species. Many of the beetles have black elytra, hence their common name. Apart from the 9 subfamilies listed here, the tribe Opatrini of the Tenebrioninae is sometimes considered a distinct family, and/or the Pimeliinae are included in the Tenebrioninae as a tribe Pimeliini.
Darkling beetles eat both fresh and decaying vegetation. Major predators include birds, rodents, sunspiders, and lizards. Some species live in the dry Namib desert and have evolved modifications that help them collect water from the fog that condenses on their elytra.
The larval stages of several species are cultured as feeder insects for captive insectivores, and include the very commonly known mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) and superworms (Zophobas morio), and the lesser-known mini mealworms (Tenebrio obscurus).
This family of beetles may be identified by a combination of features, including :
- An 11-segmented antenna which may be filiform, moniliform, or weakly clubbed.
- First abdominal sternite entire and not divided by the hind coxae.
- Eyes notched by a frontal ridge.
- Tarsi have four segments in the hind pair and 5 in the fore and mid legs (5-5-4.) The tarsal claws are simple.
- Tenebrio molitor is commonly used as food for terrestrial amniotes kept in terraria.
- Zophobas morio, or superworm, is a food for captive reptiles with less chitin than T. molitor.
- Tribolium castaneum is a laboratory animal and model organism, especially in studies of intragenomic conflict and population ecology.
- Many darkling beetles are pests of cereal and flour silos and other storage facilities, including T. castaneum, other Tribolium species such as T. confusum and Tribolium destructor, and Gnathocerus cornutus.
- In southwestern North America, species of the genus Eleodes (particularly E. obscurus) are well known as "pinacate beetles" or "desert stink beetles".
Stenocara dentata in southern Africa
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tenebrionidae.|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Darkling beetle|
- Tenebrionidae.net- information and pictures about darkling beetles
- Alphitobius diaperinus, lesser mealworm. University of Florida IFAS
- Leichenum canaliculatum variegatum, Madagascar beetle University of Florida IFAS