Darkling beetle

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Darkling beetle
Darkling beetle.jpg
Alphitobius sp. (Tenebrioninae: Alphitobiini)
Scale bar (top right) is 2 millimeters
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Suborder: Polyphaga
Superfamily: Tenebrionoidea
Family: Tenebrionidae
Latreille, 1802

and see text

Darkling beetles are a family, Tenebrionidae, 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, sun spiders, 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.


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 five in the fore and mid legs (5-5-4), tarsal claws are simple

Notable species[edit]

Image gallery[edit]

External links[edit]