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Ironclad beetles
Ironclad female sjh.JPG
Ironclad beetle, Zopherus nodulosus haldemani
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Zopheridae
Subfamily: Zopherinae

Zopherinae is a subfamily of beetles, commonly known as ironclad beetles. Together with the subfamily Usechinae, they have been treated historically as a family, but have recently been joined by several additional taxa, making the Zopheridae a much larger composite family, and the Zopherinae are now only a small component within it, consisting of seven genera in the tribe Zopherini and one genus, Phellopsis in its own tribe (Phellopsini).

These beetles are apparently fungivores and associated with rotting wood, and as the common name implies, have one of the hardest of all arthropod exoskeletons; in some species, it is almost impossible to drive an insect pin through their bodies without using a small drill to make a hole first.

When disturbed, ironclad beetles play dead.

Some species in the genus Zopherus in Mexico are decorated with costume jewelry glued to their bodies, and sold as living brooches, known as ma'kech.[1]

Selected species[edit]

Phellopsis montana Casey, 1907
Phellopsis obcordata (Kirby, 1837)
Phellopsis porcata
Phellopsis robustula Casey, 1907
Nosoderma aequale
Nosoderma diabolicum (LeConte, 1851)
Nosoderma exsculptum
Nosoderma guatemalense
Nosoderma inaequale
Nosoderma plicatum (LeConte, 1859)
Nosoderma sylvaticum
Nosoderma zunilense
Zopherus championi Triplehorn, 1972
Zopherus chilensis
Zopherus concolor LeConte, 1851
Zopherus elegans Horn, 1870
Zopherus gracilis Horn, 1867
Zopherus granicollis Horn, 1885
Zopherus jansoni
Zopherus jourdani
Zopherus laevicollis
Zopherus nervosus
Zopherus nodulosus Solier, 1841
Zopherus opacus Horn, 1867
Zopherus sanctaehelenae (Blaisdell, 1931)
Zopherus tristis LeConte, 1851
Zopherus uteanus (Casey, 1907)
Zopherus xestus Triplehorn, 1972


  1. ^ "CBP Officers Intercept Live Beetle Worn as Jewelry at Brownsville Port of Entry" (Press release). US Customs and Border Patrol. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2016.