PHLOIOPHILIDAE Kiesenwetter, 1863

No Common Name

The single species of this family will need to be looked for in the winter, by beating lichen-covered branches and twigs of Oak trees. 

POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CLEROIDEA Latreille, 1802

PHLOIOPHILUS Stephens, 1830

P. edwardsii Stephens, 1830 

2-3mm

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Introduction

The taxonomic placement of this monotypic family is uncertain; historically it has been included as a subfamily of the Melyridae Leach, 1815 or the Dasytidae Laporte, 1840 or has been treated as an independent family, it is usually considered as closely related to the Trogossitidae Latrielle, 1802 and is sometimes included as a tribe of that family, and recent molecular data suggests a close affinity with Biphyllidae LeConte, 1861 and Byturidae Gistel, 1848, two families considered close to the Cleroidea Latreille, 1802. The position of the group, or whether the family rank is appropriate, remains uncertain but it remains for now in the Cleroidea; future research may necessitate a move to a more typical cucujoid series. The type genus Phloiophilus Stephens, 1830 includes the European P. edwardsii Stephens, 1830 which is widespread across Mediterranean North Africa and central Europe extending north into Southern Scandinavia and the U.K., here it occurs locally throughout England and Wales and there are a few records from the Scottish Highlands. The species is saproxylic, occurring in woodland and wooded parkland etc. where the adults occur from late September to March; they are active during mild days among moss and lichens on dry decaying branches and may be sampled by beating or sweeping, on the continent they have also been recorded as nocturnal. Both adults and larvae are fungivores and generally occur together, often in numbers, beneath the thin fruiting bodies of the Agaricomycete fungus Phlebia radiate Fr. Which is a widespread genus causing white-rot on a range of deciduous trees as well as pine.  In central Europe it has been recorded from Phlebia merismoides and in the Netherlands adults and larvae have been recorded from decaying oak branches infested with the Agaricomycete fungus Peniophora quercina Cooke.

Description

This tiny 2-3mm elongate and rather densely pubescent species is reminiscent of Mycetophagidae Leach, 1815 or, with its distinctly clubbed antennae, several of the cucujoid families but the distinctive dorsal pattern coupled with the 3-segmented antennal club and 5-segmented tarsi that lack lobed  segments are distinctive. Adults  are entirely testaceous, or

with the head darkened, and have several dark marks near the elytral suture, including a U-shaped one behind the middle. The outline is parallel and discontinuous with the pronotum and elytra constricted at the base. Head transverse with large convex eyes which are finely faceted and glabrous, frontoclypeal suture absent, labrum well-sclerotized and visible from in front, the mandibles bidentate apically and without a basal molar. The vertex and frons are uneven and wrinkled but lack any depressions or grooves. Apical segment of all palps cylindrical, antennae longer than the head and pronotum combined, 11-segmented with a distinct abrupt and symmetrical 3-segmented club, inserted laterally in front of the eyes, the insertion visible from above. Ventrally smooth without furrows or antennal grooves. Pronotum transverse, rounded laterally and distinctly bordered, the surface evenly convex and quite strongly and densely punctured. Pro-coxal cavities narrowly separated and broadly open behind, the prosternal process more or less reaching the mesosternum. Middle coxal cavities closely approximated and open behind, the hind coxae contiguous or very narrowly separated, very transverse and extending to the elytral epipleura. Scutellum obvious; flat and broadly rounded or triangular. Elytra entirely covering the abdomen; continually rounded apically and with narrow epipleura that extend to the apex. The surface is smoothly convex, without striae, punctation random; less dense but about as strong as that on the pronotum. Abdomen with five free and articulated sternites, segment eight apparently without functional spiracles. Male genitalia cucjiform. Femora only weakly thickened, tibiae long and thin and without, or with much reduced, apical spurs. Tarsi 5-segmented, the segments simple, not bilobed, 1-4 elongate and subequal, 5 much longer and broadened towards the apex. Claws smooth without a basal tooth. The larva is elongate, subparallel and rather flattened dorsally, lightly sclerotized and glabrous, any vestiture restricted to setae or very fine hairs. Creamy or yellowish with the head a little darker, the frontoclypeal suture distinct and the labrum separated by a distinct suture, the mandibles bilobed or bidentate. The labrum with a short ligula extending between 3-segmented maxillary palps. Antennae with two basal segments transverse. Legs small and 5-segmented, with a single movable claw. Abdomen with 10 visible segments, the anterior segments with spiracles and the ninth not divided, terminal urogomphi hooked and without a median process.

 

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