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Cetonia aurata
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
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 so far discovered.

Beetle Order of insects

Beetles are a group of insects that form the order Coleoptera, in the superorder Endopterygota. Their front pair of wings are hardened into wing-cases, elytra, distinguishing them from most other insects. The Coleoptera, with about 400,000 species, is the largest of all orders, constituting almost 40% of described insects and 25% of all known animal life-forms; new species are discovered frequently. The largest of all families, the Curculionidae (weevils) with some 83,000 member species, belongs to this order. 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.

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 notopleuron is a region on an insect thorax. Notopleura are useful in characterizing species, particularly, though not uniquely, in the Order Diptera. The notopleuron is a thoracic pleurite situated at the end of the transverse suture of Diptera.


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 infraorders are:

Bostrichiformia Infraorder of beetles

Bostrichiformia is an infraorder of polyphagan beetles.

Cucujiformia Infraorder of beetles

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

Longhorn beetle Family of beetles characterized by long antennae

The longhorn beetles are a cosmopolitan family of beetles, typically characterized by extremely long antennae, which are often as long as or longer than the beetle's body. In various members of the family, however, the antennae are quite short and such species can be difficult to distinguish from related beetle families such as the Chrysomelidae. The family is large, with over 26,000 species described, slightly more than half from the Eastern Hemisphere. Several are serious pests. The larvae, called roundheaded borers, bore into wood, where they can cause extensive damage to either living trees or untreated lumber. A number of species mimic ants, bees, and wasps, though a majority of species are cryptically colored. The rare titan beetle from northeastern South America is often considered the largest insect, with a maximum known body length of just over 16.7 cm (6.6 in). The scientific name of this beetle family goes back to a figure from Greek mythology: after an argument with nymphs, the shepherd Cerambus was transformed into a large beetle with horns.

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.

Hydrophiloidea superfamily of insects

Hydrophiloidea is a superfamily of beetles. Until recently it was only a single family, the water scavenger beetles (Hydrophilidae), but several of the subfamilies have been removed and raised to family rank.

Staphylinoidea superfamily of insects

Staphylinoidea is a superfamily of beetles. It is a very large and diverse group with worldwide distribution.

Scarabaeoidea superfamily of insects

Scarabaeoidea is a superfamily of beetles, the only subgroup of the infraorder Scarabaeiformia. Around 35,000 species are placed in this superfamily and some 200 new species are described each year. Its constituent families are also undergoing revision presently, and the family list below is only preliminary.

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.

Ommatidium independent photoreception units that make up the compound eye of arthropods.

The compound eyes of arthropods like insects, crustaceans and millipedes are composed of units called ommatidia. An ommatidium contains a cluster of photoreceptor cells surrounded by support cells and pigment cells. The outer part of the ommatidium is overlaid with a transparent cornea. Each ommatidium is innervated by one axon bundle and provides the brain with one picture element. The brain forms an image from these independent picture elements. The number of ommatidia in the eye depends upon the type of arthropod and may be as low as 5 as in the Antarctic isopod Glyptonotus antarcticus or range from just a handful in the primitive Zygentoma to around 30 thousand in larger Anisoptera dragonflies as well as in some Sphingidae moths.

Spiracle (arthropods) opening in the exoskeletons of some arthropods

A spiracle or stigma is the opening in the exoskeletons of insects and some more derived spiders to allow air to enter the trachea. In the respiratory system of insects, the tracheal tubes primarily deliver oxygen directly into the animals' tissues. The spiracles can be opened and closed in an efficient manner to reduce water loss. This is done by contracting closer muscles surrounding the spiracle. In order to open, the muscle relaxes. The closer muscle is controlled by the central nervous system, but can also react to localized chemical stimuli. Several aquatic insects have similar or alternative closing methods to prevent water from entering the trachea. The timing and duration of spiracle closures can affect the respiratory rates of the organism. Spiracles may also be surrounded by hairs to minimize bulk air movement around the opening, and thus minimize water loss.

Cleroidea Superfamily of beetles

Cleroidea is a small superfamily of beetles. Most of the members of the group are somewhat slender, often with fairly soft, flexible elytra, and typically hairy or scaly.

See also

Related Research Articles

Orthoptera order of insects (Insecta) including grasshoppers, crickets, weta and locusts

Orthoptera is an order of insects that comprises the grasshoppers, locusts and crickets, including closely related insects such as the katydids and wetas. The order is subdivided into two suborders: Caelifera – grasshoppers, locusts and close relatives; and Ensifera – crickets and close relatives.

Weevil Superfamily of beetles

Weevils are a type of beetle belonging to the superfamily Curculionoidea. They are usually small, less than 6 mm (0.24 in), and herbivorous. About 97,000 species of weevils are known. They belong to several families, with most of them in the family Curculionidae. Some other beetles, although not closely related, bear the name "weevil", such as the biscuit weevil, which belongs to the family Ptinidae.

Staphyliniformia infraorder of insects

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.

Ensifera suborder of insects

Ensifera is a suborder of insects that includes the various types of crickets and their allies including: true crickets, camel crickets, bush crickets or katydids, grigs, wetas and Cooloola monsters. It and the suborder Caelifera make up the order Orthoptera. Ensifera is believed to be a more ancient group than Caelifera, with its origins in the Carboniferous period, the split having occurred at the end of the Permian period. Unlike the Caelifera, the Ensifera contain numerous members that are partially carnivorous, feeding on other insects as well as plants.

Lymexylidae Family of 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.

Nepomorpha infraorder of insects

Nepomorpha is an infraorder of insects in the "true bug" order (Hemiptera). They belong to the "typical" bugs of the suborder Heteroptera. Due to their aquatic habits, these animals are known as true water bugs. They occur all over the world outside the polar regions, with about 2,000 species altogether. The Nepomorpha can be distinguished from related Heteroptera by their missing or vestigial ocelli. Also, as referred to by the obsolete name Cryptocerata, their antennae are reduced, with weak muscles, and usually carried tucked against the head.

Sternorrhyncha suborder of insects

The Sternorrhyncha suborder of the Hemiptera contains the aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects, groups which were traditionally included in the order Homoptera. "Sternorrhyncha" refers to the rearward position of the mouthparts relative to the head.

Vadim Gratshev Russian scientist

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.

Stenotrachelidae family of insects

Stenotrachelidae, commonly called false longhorn beetles is a family of beetles, in the large suborder Polyphaga.

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

Europs pallipennis is a species in the family Monotomidae, in the suborder Polyphaga . It is found in North America.

Plateumaris neomexicana is a species in the subfamily Donaciinae, in the suborder Polyphaga . It is found in North America.

Sibinia transversa is a species in the family Curculionidae, in the suborder Polyphaga . It is found in North America.

Carpelimus aridus is a species in the subfamily Oxytelinae, in the suborder Polyphaga . It is found in the Caribbean.

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

Cychrini tribe of insects

Cychrini is a tribe of ground beetles in the family Carabidae. There are at least 60 described species in Cychrini.

<i>Pedostrangalia</i> genus of insects

Pedostrangalia is a family of beetles which belong to the subfamily of cerambycidae in the family of longhorn beetles.


  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.