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Click beetle

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Title: Click beetle  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Elateriformia, Elateroidea, List of subgroups of the order Coleoptera, Beetle, Pheletes quercus
Collection: Elateridae, Elateroidea, Insect Families
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Click beetle

Click beetles
Click beetle adults and larvae (wireworms)
Left: Wheat Wireworm (Agriotes mancus)
Right: Sand Wireworm (Horistonotus uhlerii)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Superfamily: Elateroidea
Family: Elateridae
Leach, 1815

Cebrioninae Latreille, 1802



Insects in the family Elateridae are commonly called click beetles (or "typical click beetles" to distinguish them from the related Cerophytidae and Eucnemidae). Other names include elaters, snapping beetles, spring beetles or skipjacks. This family was defined by William Elford Leach (1790–1836) in 1815. They are a cosmopolitan beetle family characterized by the unusual click mechanism they possess. There are a few closely related families in which a few members have the same mechanism, but all elaterids can click. A spine on the prosternum can be snapped into a corresponding notch on the mesosternum, producing a violent "click" that can bounce the beetle into the air. Clicking is mainly used to avoid predation, although it is also useful when the beetle is on its back and needs to right itself. There are about 9300 known species worldwide,[1] and 965 valid species in North America.[2]


  • Description and ecology 1
  • Selected genera 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Description and ecology

Click beetles can be large and colorful, but most are under 2 centimeters long and dull in coloration and patterning. The adults are typically bioluminescent in both larval and adult form, such as those of the genus Pyrophorus.

Larvae are slender, elongate, cylindrical or somewhat flattened, with relatively hard bodies, somewhat resembling mealworms. The three pairs of legs on the thoracic segments are short and the last abdominal segment is, as is frequently the case in beetle larvae, directed downwards and may serve as a terminal proleg in some species. The ninth segment, the rearmost, is pointed in larvae of Agriotes, Dalopius and Melanotus, but is bifid due to a so-called caudal notch in Selatosomus (formerly Ctenicera), Limonius, Hypnoides and Athous species.[3] The dorsum of the ninth abdominal segment may also have sharp processes, such as in the Oestodini, including the genera Drapetes and Oestodes. Although some species complete their development in one year (e.g. Conoderus), wireworms usually spend three or four years in the soil, feeding on decaying vegetation and the roots of plants, and often causing damage to agricultural crops such as potato, strawberry, corn, and wheat.[4][5] The subterranean habits of wireworms, their ability to quickly locate food by following carbon dioxide gradients produced by plant material in the soil,[6] and their remarkable ability to recover from illness induced by insecticide exposure (sometimes after many months),[7] make it hard to exterminate them once they have begun to attack a crop. Wireworms can pass easily through the soil on account of their shape and their propensity for following pre-existing burrows,[8] and can travel from plant to plant, thus injuring the roots of multiple plants within a short time. Methods for pest control include crop rotation and clearing the land of insects before sowing.

Other subterranean creatures such as the leatherjacket grub of crane flies which have no legs, and geophilid centipedes, which may have over two hundred, are sometimes confounded with the six-legged wireworms.

Selected genera


Lateral aspect of a typical member of the Elateridae. Just below the base of the wings the "clicking" apparatus is visible in silhouette, with the "peg" or "process" in contact with the raised slot or "cavity" into which it slips to force the impact when required
  1. ^ Schneider, M. C.; et al. (2006). "Evolutionary chromosomal differentiation among four species of Conoderus Eschscholtz, 1829 (Coleoptera, Elateridae, Agrypninae, Conoderini) detected by standard staining, C-banding, silver nitrate impregnation, and CMA3/DA/DAPI staining".  
  2. ^ Majka, C. G. and P. J. Johnson (2008). "The Elateridae (Coleoptera) of the Maritime Provinces of Canada: faunal composition, new records, and taxonomic changes" ( 
  3. ^ van Herk, W. (March 12, 2009). "Limonius: wireworm research site". Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  4. ^ R. S. Vernon, W. van Herk, J. Tolman, H. Ortiz Saavedra, M. Clodius & B. Gage (2008). "Transitional sublethal and lethal effects of insecticides after dermal exposures to five economic species of wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae)".  
  5. ^ William E. Parker & Julia J. Howard (2001). "The biology and management of wireworms (Agriotes spp.) on potato with particular reference to the U.K.".  
  6. ^ J. F. Doane, Y. W. Lee, N. D. Westcott & J. Klingler (1975). "The orientation response of Ctenicera destructor and other wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae) to germinating grain and to carbon dioxide".  
  7. ^ W. G. van Herk, R. S. Vernon, J. H. Tolman & H. Ortiz Saavedra (2008). (Coleoptera: Elateridae), after topical application of various insecticides"Agriotes obscurus"Mortality of a wireworm, .  
  8. ^ Willem G. van Herk & Robert S. Vernon (2007). "Soil bioassay for studying behavioral responses of wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae) to inecticide-treated wheat seed".  


  •  Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Click Beetle".  

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Click beetle at Wikispecies
  • Elateridae. Click Beetles of the Palearctic Region.

On the University of Florida / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Featured Creatures website:

  • spp.AlausClick beetles,
  • (Brown)Conoderus rudis
  • SchaefferConoderus scissus
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