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Temporal range: Triassic–Present
Cetonia aurata
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Suborder: Polyphaga
Emery, 1886



Polyphaga is the largest and most diverse suborder of beetles. It comprises 144 families in 16 superfamilies, and displays an enormous variety of specialization and adaptation, with over 350,000 described species, or approximately 90% of the beetle species discovered thus far.

Key characteristics of Polyphaga are that the hind coxa (base of the leg) does not divide the first and second abdominal/ventral plates which are known as sternites. Also, the notopleural suture (found under the pronotal shield) is not present. [1]


The name of polyphaga is derived from two Greek words: poly-, meaning 'many', and phagein, meaning 'to eat', so the suborder is called the “eaters of many things”.


The five main infraorders are:

Phylogenetic studies have also suggested that Scirtoidea (Scirtidae, Decliniidae), Clamboidea (Clambidae, Derodontidae, Eucinetidae), Rhinorhipus and Nosodendridae are independent lineages of Polyphaga that lie outside these groups. [2]

The internal classification of Polyphaga involves several superfamilies or series, whose constituents are relatively stable, although some smaller families (whose rank even is disputed) are allocated to different clades by different authors. Large superfamilies include Hydrophiloidea, Staphylinoidea, Scarabaeoidea, Buprestoidea, Byrrhoidea, Elateroidea, and Bostrichoidea.

The infraorder Cucujiformia includes the vast majority of phytophagous (plant-eating) beetles, united by cryptonephric Malpighian tubules of the normal type, a cone ommatidium with open rhabdom, and lack of functional spiracles on the eighth abdominal segment. Constituent superfamilies of Cucujiformia are Cleroidea, Cucujoidea, Tenebrionoidea, Chrysomeloidea, and Curculionoidea. Evidently adoption of a phytophagous lifestyle correlates with taxon diversity in beetles, with Cucujiformia, especially weevils (Curculionoidea), forming a major radiation.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beetle</span> Order of insects

Beetles are insects that form the order Coleoptera, in the superorder Holometabola. Their front pair of wings are hardened into wing-cases, elytra, distinguishing them from most other insects. The Coleoptera, with about 400,000 described species, is the largest of all orders, constituting almost 40% of described insects and 25% of all known animal species; new species are discovered frequently, with estimates suggesting that there are between 0.9 and 2.1 million total species. Found in almost every habitat except the sea and the polar regions, they interact with their ecosystems in several ways: beetles often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are serious agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle, while others such as Coccinellidae eat aphids, scale insects, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects that damage crops.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cucujiformia</span> Infraorder of beetles

Cucujiformia is an infraorder of polyphagan beetles, representing most plant-eating beetles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Staphyliniformia</span> Infraorder of beetles

Staphyliniformia is a large infraorder of beetles. It contains over 70,000 described species from all regions of the world. Most species occur in moist habitats - various kinds of rotting plant debris, fungi, dung, carrion, many live in fresh water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cucujoidea</span> Superfamily of beetles

Cucujoidea is a superfamily of beetles. This group formerly included all of the families now included in the superfamily Coccinelloidea. They include some fungus beetles and a diversity of lineages of "bark beetles" unrelated to the "true" bark beetles (Scolytinae), which are weevils.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lymexylidae</span> Family of wood-boring beetles

The Lymexylidae, also known as ship-timber beetles, are a family of wood-boring beetles. Lymexylidae belong to the suborder Polyphaga and are the sole member of the superfamily Lymexyloidea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Byrrhoidea</span> Superfamily of beetles

Byrrhoidea is a superfamily of beetles belonging to Elateriformia that includes several families which are either aquatic or associated with a semi-aquatic habitat. Other than the superfamily Hydrophiloidea, most of the remaining Polyphagan beetles which are aquatic are in this superfamily.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scirtoidea</span> Superfamily of beetles

Scirtoidea is a superfamily of beetles. It is traditionally considered to consist of four families: Clambidae, Decliniidae, Eucinetidae and Scirtidae. However, genetic studies have suggested that Clambidae and Eucinetidae belong to a separate superfamily Clamboidea, which also includes Derodontidae. Scirtoidea and Clamboidea are the two earliest diverging lineages of living polyphagans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vadim Gratshev</span>

Vadim Gennadyevich Gratshev was one of world leading experts in palaeoentomology. Vadim graduated from the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute in 1987 and taught biology at a high school for three years until 1989. Then he decided to pursue academic science and joined the Laboratory of Arthropods at the Paleontological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in 1991, first as a Kuperwood Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and since 1994 as a full-time researcher. Weevils and dryopoids were always his main passion, although his area of interests extended far beyond that. He produced over 20 scientific papers, including an outstanding comparative study of the hindwing venation of the superfamily Curculionoidea published in co-authorship with Vladimir Zherikhin. Being a keen field researcher, he participated in numerous expeditions to the Maritime Province and Sakhalin Island, Kuznetskii Alatau, Novosibirsk Region, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, and Ukraine. The material he collected on his trip to the Drakensberg and Zululand in 2005 inspired him to commence a new project on Afrotropical Elmidae and Anthribidae. Being an optimistic, cheerful multi-talented individual with subtle sense of humour, he did not restrict his interests to extinct and extant beetles. He was an expert in noble orchids, aquarium design and raising geckos, and published several papers on those topics. He was a skillful wood-carver, and his knowledge of Japanese history and literature was not amateur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Histeroidea</span> Superfamily of beetles

Histeroidea is a superfamily of beetles in the infraorder Staphyliniformia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stenotrachelidae</span> Family of insects

Stenotrachelidae, commonly called false longhorn beetles is a family of beetles in the superfamily Tenebrionoidea. They are native to the Holarctic region. The larvae feed on heavily decomposed wood, while the adults are likely short lived and probably feed on pollen.

<i>Rhinorhipus</i> Genus of beetles

Rhinorhipus is a genus of beetles that contains a single species, Rhinorhipus tamborinensis from southern Queensland, Australia. It is the sole member of the family Rhinorhipidae and superfamily Rhinorhipoidea. It is an isolated lineage not closely related to any other living beetle, estimated to have split from other beetles at least 200 million years ago, with studies either considering them the earliest diverging member of Elateriformia, or a basal lineage within Polyphaga. They exhibit feigning death (thanatosis) when disturbed. Their ecology is poorly known. It is likely that they are fossorial based on their morphology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Passandridae</span> Family of beetles

Passandridae, the "parasitic flat bark beetles," are a family of beetles notable for being one of the very few beetle families with larvae that are, as far as known, exclusively ectoparasitic on the immature stages of other beetles and Hymenoptera.

Ophryastes turbinatus is a species in the subfamily Entiminae, in the suborder Polyphaga . It is found in North America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coccinelloidea</span> Superfamily of beetles

Coccinelloidea is a superfamily of beetles in the order Coleoptera, formerly included in the superfamily Cucujoidea. There are more than 10,000 species in Coccinelloidea, including more than 6000 in the lady beetle family Coccinellidae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anamorphidae</span> Family of beetles

Anamorphidae is a family of beetles in the superfamily Coccinelloidea, formerly included within the family Endomychidae. They are found worldwide. Like enchomyids, they are fungivores, with adult and larval stages thought to exclusively consume fungal spores.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eupsilobiidae</span> Family of beetles

Eupsilobiidae is a family of beetles in the superfamily Coccinelloidea, formerly included within the family Endomychidae. Most genera are restricted to the Neotropics, while the genus Eidoreus is found worldwide. They are fungivores, and have been observed living commensally in bee and ant nests.

Phyllotreta liebecki is a species of flea beetle in the family Chrysomelidae. It is found in North America.

Phytophaga is a clade of beetles within the infraorder Cucujiformia consisting of the superfamilies Chrysomeloidea and Curculionoidea that are distinctive in the plant-feeding habit combined with the tarsi being pseudotetramerous or cryptopentamerous, where the fourth tarsal segment is typically greatly reduced or hidden by the third tarsal segment. The Cucujoidea are a sister to the Phytophaga. In some older literature the term Phytophaga was applied only to the Chrysomeloidea.

<i>Euporus</i> Genus of beetles

Euporus is a genus of beetles belonging to the large subfamily Cerambycinae in the family of longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae).


  1. Johnson, Norman F.; Triplehorn, Charles A. (2004). Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects (7th ed.). Belmont: Brooks/Cole. pp. 365–400, 428–429. ISBN   0-03-096835-6.
  2. Cai, Chenyang; Tihelka, Erik; Giacomelli, Mattia; Lawrence, John F.; Ślipiński, Adam; Kundrata, Robin; Yamamoto, Shûhei; Thayer, Margaret K.; Newton, Alfred F.; Leschen, Richard A. B.; Gimmel, Matthew L.; Lü, Liang; Engel, Michael S.; Bouchard, Patrice; Huang, Diying (March 2022). "Integrated phylogenomics and fossil data illuminate the evolution of beetles". Royal Society Open Science. 9 (3): 211771. doi:10.1098/rsos.211771. ISSN   2054-5703. PMC   8941382 . PMID   35345430.