Staphylinidae      Rove Beetles
Introduction
A large family containing more than an quarter of the British coleoptera. They seem, perhaps understandably, never to have been particularly popular and neither have they featured usefully in the various guides to beetles that have appeared over the years. Apart from the most distinctive forms they are difficult, or impossible in many cases, to figure usefully because there are so many closely similar species and, without an appreciation of the family as a whole and some very precise guidance, it probably does more harm than good to use such guides for serious identification. Having said that, colour pictures from general guides (and there are some with excellent anthologies) can give an idea of the different forms and might also give confidence to an identification made through keys where only line drawings have been used. It must also be mentioned that, for somebody interested in Coleoptera but approaching staphs for the first time, they might seem drab and even tedious e.g. having seived an autumn fungi or dung sample and obtained a few hundred staphs less than 2mm in length, and a good number of them half this length, one needs a certain resolve in the aspects of dealing them that follow

What follows is our humble effort to help make staphs more accesible. In order to partition the family into maneagable groups, subfamilies and sometimes lower divisions are considered individually.There are many distinctive forms which, when they are learned and (mentally) removed from the list, leave the remainder much easier to appreciate. Notwithstanding this it soon becomes obvious that the problems involved with identification are formidable, and the situation is compounded by there being no comprehensive keys available in English.

At this stage, i.e. early in ones study of the staphs, it is worthwhile learning enough German to be able to make sense of the works of Freude et al , these books give only line drawings but they are lucid and somehow easy to use, they do not repeat the mistake of Joy's Handbook where line drawings are proportional to a species size so that the smallest figures, which might have been most useful, become almost useless without a great deal of experience.

Admittedly one needs to be single minded and very determined with the staphs, they are difficult, but every successful identification provides material that can help guide other specimens through the keys. Studying staphs will soon generate a considerable number of identified specimens but in each case they should be taken as far as possible and then labelled and listed for future reference. This will be frustrating but also worthwhile, the secret is to keep on trying to key things out and remain aware of how far your unidentified specimens go, sooner or later things begin to fall into place.

This situation is unfortunate because for those interested in or even (as, sadly, with one of our group ) excited by dealing with microscopic rove beetles the amount of work needed is very considerable.

Almost, it seems, by way of compensation the syaphs are not difficult to collect. They are found in most situations at most times of the year and just about any collecting technique will produce them. Samples of almost anything organic (sometimes even seaweed) will probably contain at least some; sweeping, beating, light trapping, ?? netting, pit fall trapping etc. etc. will produce them. It would be far easier to list situations where they are not found. Some idea of the ecology of the group is given under the subfamily and species descriptions.

Die Kafer Mitteleuropas, Freude, Harde, Lohse. Vols 4 and 5
Practical handbook of British beetles, Joy
The author's son, one of our junior members, continually provides copious amounts of specimens which the father is expected to set, mount and identify - Webmaster.

General Description
<1-35mm. Generally elongate with short or medium length elytra leaving at least part of the abdomen visible, in some species of Omaliinae and Scaphidiinae this may not be obvious. Sutural stria of elytra usually straight but may be modified and overlap e.g. Tachyporinae or Xantholinus spp.. Abdomen eight segmented and usually flexible, variously covered by elytra, terminal segments may telescope in so care must be taken to appreciate this. Any serious study will necesitate dissection, the male and female genitalia are often distinctive. Head from broadly transverse to elongate with temples varying from dilated to contracted to non-existent, sometimes withdrawn into prothorax. Eyes variable but usually entire, perhaps best developed in Stenus spp., ocelli present in Omaliinae and Proteininae. Antennae usually 11 segmented, sometimes 9 or 10, and variable from filiform to broadly thickened or clubbed and variously setose. Their position of insertion provides the basis of a practical guide to subfamilies. Thorax and abdomen are variable, from cylindrical to arched or flat, variously sculptured and modified e.g. Omalium, Oxytelus and Bledius. Legs are generally less variable than other characters; mostly long and/or agile, many species are capable of rapid movement when disturbed e.g. Ontholestes or Creophilus. Despite the lifestyle of many of the staphs i.e. burrowing in fungi, dung, carrion etc. the fossorial leg structure of, say, Clivina or Aphodius is rarely developed. Tarsi 3,4 or 5 segmented many combinations, it will be useful or even essential to be able to count these (ID Aids) but this presents a great obstacle in tiny Aleocharinae species, so much so that both Freude and Joy provide practical help to this group as well as help based on tarsal formulae. Those without experience will find the ID notes useful.

Part of the reason for presenting this site is to show people some of the Coleoptera of our area while providing guidance as to how to make identifications certain. In some groups of staphs this is very difficult and, for this reason, the Aleocharinae are left out of the following discussion covering subfamilies. Apart from this the sequence follows that of the checklist from the Coleopterists website which represents, we trust, the latest ideas in staph phylogeny. In this list the former families Psephalidae and Scaphidiidae are treated as subfamilies of the Staphylinidae and so are considered here. Aleocharinae, which require a rather more detailed approach, will be considered separately following the subfamily discussions.

Omaliinae
Proteininae
Micropeplinae
Pselaphinae
19 genera, 53 spp. These are very distinctive species of two general forms; broad e.g. Bryaxis, and the more typically staphylinid linear form e.g. Euplectus.

The two species of Claviger are unusual and, for convenience, not included in the subfamily description that follows. They are small, 2-3mm., with tiny eyes and six segmented (four visible) antennae. A large depression (trichome, a licking spot, an adaptation for living with ants) occupies the (apparent) first abdominal tergite. They are found exclusively in ants nests.

Antennae 11 segmented, apically thickened and with a distinctive terminal club. Inserted above mandibles, basal segments obvious. Terminal segment of maxillary palpi longer than others, often highly modified. Tarsi 3 segmented. the first often tiny, and with a single claw (in all British species) but in some (Batrisodes, Tychus there is also a stout seta which can be mistaken for a second claw. Upper surface with deep wide fovea, often between eyes, on pronotum, elytra or on sides of metasternum. Many species are pubescent.

So far as identification is concerned these can offer formidable problems, e.g. Euplechus spp. and Biblioplechus spp. where careful dissection is necessary and females can only be determined by comparison or association. Among the staphylinidae as a whole, however they are not likely to be confused with any other subfamily and will soon be recognised instantly when sorting through samples.

Collecting these is not easy, we have specimens from grass tussocks, moss and bark from a wide variety of habitats but it must be said that they turn up at random, taking samples specifically to find them can be very frustrating. Berlese extraction is probably best, if time consuming, as one needs to be very diligent and patient if working samples under spotlights; the few we have found by this method have remained stationary for a long time.

They are associated with bark and rotten wood, moss, leaf litter, plant tussocks (often from riparian areas), manure heaps and hot beds, in general shaded and moist habitats. Euplectus falsus Bed. has been found in bird's nests. Brachygluta spp. are found only in salt marshes. Many species are associated with ants nests and their surroundings, some are strictly myrmecophilous: Claviger spp., Amauronyx, Bythinopsis and Batrisodes spp.

Unfortunately many of our species are rare or very local but by searching carefully and patiently one can confidentally expect to find half a dozen or so fairly quickly. They should be looked for year round.

Joy's keys must be considered out of date, and while Pearce's (1957) treatment omits 5 species now on the British list, it is a very good introduction to the subfamily. Besuchet's treatment in Vol 5 (updated 1989) of Die Kafer Mitteleuropas is elegant and well worth the effort involved in its use, the line drawings of insects and aedeagi are very good (see page 339!).

Images

Phloeocharinae
Tachyporinae
Trichophyinae
Habrocerinae
Aleocharinae
Scaphidiinae
Piestinae
Oxytelinae
Oxyporinae
Steninae
Euaesthetinae
Pseudopsinae
Paederinae
Staphylininae
Discussion
 
Omaliinae

Eusphalerum
luteum

Eusphalerum
luteum

Eusphalerum
luteum

Eusphalerum
primulae

Lesteva
longoelytrata

Lesteva
punctata

Lesteva
punctata

Lesteva
punctata

Lesteva
punctata

Lesteva
punctata

Lesteva
sicula

Lesteva
sicula

Olophrum
piceum

Olophrum
piceum

Omalium
italicum

Omalium
rivulare

Philorinum
sordidum
Proteininae

Megarthrus
denticollis

Megarthrus
depressus

Metopsia
clypeata

Proteinus
brachypterus

Proteinus
brachypterus

Proteinus
brachypterus
Pselaphinae

Rybaxis
longicornis

Trichonyx
sulcicollis
Tachyporinae

Cilea
silphoides

Cilea
silphoides

Ischnosoma
splendidum

Lordithon
lunulatus

Lordithon
trinotatus

Sepedophilus
immaculatus

Sepedophilus
littoreus

Sepedophilus
marshami

Sepedophilus
marshami

Tachinus
humeralis

Tachinus
lignorum

Tachinus
marginellus

Tachinus
rufipes

Tachinus
rufipes

Tachinus
rufipes

Tachyporus
hypnorum

Tachyporus
hypnorum

Tachyporus
nitidulus

Tachyporus
obtusus

Tachyporus
pallidus

Tachyporus
solutus
Aleocharinae

Aleochara
curtula

Aleochara
curtula

Aleochara
curtula

Aleochara
curtula

Aleochara
curtula

Aleochara
lanuginosa

Alianta
incana

Aloconota
gregaria

Amischa
analis

Autalia
impressa

Autalia
longicornis

Autalia
longicornis

Autalia
rivularis

Bolitochara
bella

Bolitochara
lucida

Bolitochara
lucida

Bolitochara
obliqua

Callicerus
obscurus

Cypha
longicornis

Dinaraea
aequata

Drusilla
canaliculata

Encephalus
complicans

Geostiba
circellaris

Gnypeta
rubrior

Gyrophaena
gentilis

Hygronoma
dimidiata

Leptusa
ruficollis

Mocyta
fungi

Myrmecocephalus
concinnus

Oxypoda
elongatula

Tachyusa
concinna
Scaphidiinae

Scaphidium
quadrimaculatum

Scaphisoma
agaricinum

Scaphisoma
boleti

Scaphisoma
boleti
Piestinae

Siagonium
quadricorne
Oxytelinae

Anotylus
complanatus

Anotylus
inustus

Anotylus
rugosus

Anotylus
rugosus

Anotylus
rugosus

Anotylus
sculpteratus

Anotylus
tetracarinatus

Bledius
spectabilis

Carpelimus
elongatulus

Oxytelus
laqueatus

Oxytelus
laqueatus

Platystethus
arenarius

Platystethus
arenarius

Platystethus
arenarius

Platystethus
capito

Syntomium
aeneum
Oxyporinae

Oxyporus
rufus
Scydmaeninae

Euconnus
hirticollis

Scydmaenus
tarsatus
Steninae

Stenus
aceris

Stenus
bifoveolatus

Stenus
bifoveolatus

Stenus
bimaculatus

Stenus
bimaculatus

Stenus
cicindeloides

Stenus
comma

Stenus
flavipes

Stenus
fornicatus

Stenus
fulvicornis

Stenus
juno

Stenus
latifrons

Stenus
melanarius

Stenus
ossium

Stenus
picipes

Stenus
providus

Stenus
solutus
Paederinae

Lathrobium
pallidum

Lathrobium
terminatum

Paederus
riparius

Rugilus
rufipes

Sunius
propinquus
Staphylininae

Atrecus
affinis

Atrecus
affinis

Atrecus
affinis

Atrecus
affinis

Atrecus
affinis

Bisnius
fimetarius

Bisnius
fimetarius

Creophilus
maxillosus

Creophilus
maxillosus

Creophilus
maxillosus

Gabrius
splendidulus

Gabrius
splendidulus

Gyrohypnus
fracticornis

Gyrohypnus
fracticornis

Megalinus
glabratus

Nudobius
lentus

Nudobius
lentus

Ocypus
olens

Ocypus
olens

Ocypus
aeneocephalus

Othius
punctulatus

Othius
punctulatus

Othius
punctulatus

Othius
punctulatus

Othius
subuliformis

Ontholestes
murinus

Ontholestes
murinus

Ontholestes
murinus

Phacophallus
parumpunctatus

Philonthus
albipes

Philonthus
cognatus

Philonthus
cruentatus

Philonthus
decorus

Philonthus
laminatus

Philonthus
marginatus

Philonthus
marginatus

Philonthus
politus

Philonthus
sanguinolentus

Philonthus
splendens

Philonthus
splendens

Philonthus
succicola

Philonthus
tenuicornis

Philonthus
varians

Philonthus
varians

Philonthus
varians

Platydracus
latebricola

Platydracus
stercorarius

Quedius
cinctus

Quedius
cinctus

Quedius
cinctus

Quedius
cinctus

Quedius
cinctus

Quedius
cruentus

Quedius
lateralis

Quedius
lateralis

Quedius
lateralis

Quedius
maurorufus

Quedius
picipes

Quedius
picipes

Staphylinus
dimidiaticornis

Tasgius
ater

Xantholinus
gallicus

Xantholinus
linearis

Xantholinus
longiventris
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