Anthicus antherinus, copyright Dick Belgers.

Belongs within: Anthicidae.

Anthicus is a cosmopolitan genus of ant-like flower beetles with a subcordate prothorax lacking any anterior projections. The elytra bear distinct tactile setae (Chandler 2002).

The ant-like beetles
Published 17 July 2019

As I’ve commented before, the world is home to an overwhelming diversity of small brown beetles, most of them (for me, at least) inordinately difficult to distinguish. One group of tiny beetles that is quite recognisable, though, is the ant-like beetles of the genus Anthicus.

Anthicus cervinus, copyright Robert Webster.

Over a hundred species around the world have been attributed to this genus. Few of them grow more than a few millimetres in length. They are elongate with the elytra more or less rounded and often covered in short hair. The legs are relatively long. The prothorax is globular and generally narrower towards the base. The head is inclined and carried on a narrow neck (Ferté-Sénectère 1848). Many species have the elytra contrastingly patterned with bands or spots. As the vernacular name indicates, the overall appearance is reminiscent of a small ant though I’m not sure if this indicates a protective mimicry or is merely coincidence.

Anthicus antherinus, copyright Udo Schmidt.

The natural history of most Anthicus species is poorly known. The greater number of species are saprophages, found in association with rotting vegetation or scavenging on dead insects. One species, Anthicus floralis, is found worldwide as a storage pest, infesting seed and grain stores. One of the larger North American species, A. heroicus, has larvae that attack masses of dobsonfly eggs on midstream boulders (Davidson & Wood 1969). The larvae feed on the eggs from the inside, using them for shelter as well as nutrition, before emerging from the eggs to pupate.

Systematics of Anthicus

Characters (from Chandler 2002): Head and neck clearly exposed; clypeofrontal suture present; fourth segment of maxillary palpus smoothly curved on mesal margins, not angularly expanded; pronotum evenly convex on anterior margin, lateral margins nearly straight, converging in basal half; elytra with tactile setae mostly distinct, undersetae absent; mesosternum and mesepisterna with distinct carinae marking their lines of fusion; lateral mesosternal margins straight, lacking fringe of setae; narrow mesepimera forming nude oblique sulcus, lacking foveae; metacoxae separated by angulate intercoxal process of first visible sternite.

<==Anthicus Paykull 1798 [incl. Nathicus Casey 1895]C02
    `--A. (Aulacoderus La Ferté-Sénectère 1848)H61
         |--A. (A.) albitarsis La Ferté-Sénectère 1848H61
         |--A. (A.) amplus Pic 1895H61
         |--A. (A.) apterus van Hille 1961H61
         |--A. (A.) bicoloritarsis Pic 1948H61
         |--A. (A.) flavopictus La Ferté-Sénectère 1848 [incl. A. flavopictus var. ornatipennis Pic 1897]H61
         |--A. (A.) friwaldskyiH61
         |--A. (A.) hanstroemi van Hille 1961H61
         |--A. (A.) lutopictus van Hille 1961H61
         |--A. (A.) martini Pic 1897H61
         |--A. (A.) middletoniensis van Hille 1961H61
         `--A. (A.) poweri van Hille 1961H61
Anthicus incertae sedis:
  A. aberrans Macleay 1872M86
  A. abnormis King 1869M86
  A. achillei Pic 1895H61
  A. antherinusC01
  A. apicalis King 1869M86
  A. astrachanicus Csiki 1901C01
  A. aterC01
  A. australisLB91
  A. balteatusG89
  A. bellus King 1869M86
  A. bembidioidesM86
  A. biplagiatus La Ferté-Sénectère 1848H61
  A. bremei Laf. 1842G89
  A. brevicollis King 1869M86
  A. caeruleipennis LaFerté-Sénectère 1847E12
  A. ‘caeruleipennis’ Pic 1904 non LaFerté-Sénectère 1847H61
  A. calcaratus van Hille 1961H61
  A. charon King 1869M86
  A. comptusM86
  A. concolor King 1869M86
  A. constrictus Macleay 1872M86
  A. crassipesM86
  A. crassus King 1869M86
  A. crinitus La Ferté-Sénectère 1848H61
  A. dachuricus Csiki 1901C01
  A. denisoni King 1869M86
  A. dentatipes Pic 1895H61
  A. dubius King 1869M86
  A. ephippiumC02
  A. floralis (Linnaeus 1758)H61 [=Meloe floralisG89]
  A. formicarius Goeze 1777H61
  A. gawleri King 1869M86
  A. glaber King 1869M86
  A. glabricollis King 1869M86
  A. grandis Pic 1895H61
  A. hesperi King 1869M86
  A. hispidusC01
  A. immaculatus King 1869M86
  A. instygius Pic 1901H61
  A. intricatus King 1869M86
  A. kingi Macleay 1872M86
  A. kreffti King 1869M86
  A. kreusleri King 1869M86
  A. kuthyi Csiki 1901C01
  A. laticollis Macleay 1872M86
  A. luridus King 1869M86
  A. macleayi King 1869M86
  A. mastersi Macleay 1872M86
  A. monilis King 1869M86
  A. myrteus King 1869M86
  A. nigerC01
  A. nigricollis King 1869M86
  A. nitidissimus King 1869M86
  A. ocreatus LaFerté-Sénectère 1847E12
  A. pallidus Macleay 1872M86
  A. pauperculus LaFerté-Sénectère 1847E12
  A. pontageanus Pic 1932H61
  A. propinquus Macleay 1872M86
  A. pulcher King 1869M86
  A. rarus King 1869M86
  A. robustithorax Pic 1913H61
  A. rubriceps Lea 1896 [=A. exiguus Lea 1894 (preoc.)]L96
  A. rudebecki Bonadona in van Hille 1961H61
  A. scabricollis LaFerté-Sénectère 1847E12
  A. scydmaenoides King 1869M86
  A. shishmareffi Csiki 1901C01
  A. spectabilis La Ferté-Sénectère 1848H61
  A. strictus Erich. 1842M86
  A. stygius La Ferté-Sénectère 1848H61
  A. subapicalis Pic 1903H61
  A. trifasciatus Fab. 1801FS90
  A. unifasciatus King 1869M86
  A. vanhillei Pic 1948H61
  A. wollastoni King 1869M86

*Type species of generic name indicated


[C02] Chandler, D. S. 2002. Anthicidae Latreille 1819. In: Arnett, R. H., Jr, M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley & J. H. Frank (eds) American Beetles vol. 2. Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea pp. 549–558. CRC Press.

[C01] Csiki, E. 1901. Bogarak [Coleopteren]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 75–120. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

Davidson, J. A., & F. E. Wood. 1969. Description and biological notes on the larva of Anthicus heroicus Casey (Coleoptera: Anthicidae). Coleopterists Bulletin 23 (1): 5–8.

[E12] Evenhuis, N. L. 2012. Publication and dating of the Exploration Scientifique de l’Algérie: Histoire Naturelle des Animaux Articulés (1846–1849) by Pierre Hippolyte Lucas. Zootaxa 3448: 1–61.

Ferté-Sénectère, M. F. de la. 1848. Monographie des Anthicus et genres voisins, coléoptères hétéromères de la tribu des trachélides. Sapia: Paris.

[FS90] Fleutiaux, E., & A. Sallé. 1890. Liste des coléoptères de la Guadeloupe et descriptions d’espèces nouvelles. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, 6e série 9: 351–484.

[G89] Gestro, R. 1889. Viaggio ab Assab nel Mar Rosso dei signori G. Doria ed O. Beccari con il R. Avviso “Esploratore” dal 16 Novembre 1879 al 26 Febbraio 1880.—IV. Coleotteri. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, Serie 2a, 7: 5–72.

[H61] Hille, J. C. van. 1961. Coleoptera: Anthicidae. In: Hanström, B., P. Brinck & G. Rudebeck (eds) South African Animal Life: Results of the Lund University Expedition in 1950–1951 vol. 8 pp. 217–258. Almqvist & Wiksell: Uppsala.

[LB91] Lawrence, J. F., & E. B. Britton. 1991. Coleoptera (beetles). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 2 pp. 543–683. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[L96] Lea, A. M. 1896. Descriptions of new species of Australian Coleoptera. Part III. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 21 (3): 284–319.

[M86] Masters, G. 1886. Catalogue of the described Coleoptera of Australia. Part IV. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, series 2, 1 (2): 259–380.

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