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Temporal range: Triassic–Present
Cetonia aurata
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
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 so far discovered.

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 infraorders are:

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

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.

Orthoptera Order of insects including grasshoppers, crickets, wētā and locusts

Orthoptera is an order of insects that comprises the grasshoppers, locusts and crickets, including closely related insects such as the katydids and wētā. 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 beetles belonging to the superfamily Curculionoidea, known for their elongated snouts. They are usually small, less than 6 mm in length, 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.

Cucujiformia Infraorder of beetles

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

Staphyliniformia 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.

Ensifera Suborder of cricket-like animals

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, weta and Cooloola monsters. This 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.

Sternorrhyncha Order of true bugs

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

Vadim Gratshev

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.

Acmaeodera rubrocuprea is a species in the family Buprestidae, in the suborder Polyphaga . The distribution range of Acmaeodera rubrocuprea includes Central America and North America.

Photinus stellaris is a species in the family Lampyridae ("fireflies"), 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.

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

Cychrini Tribe of beetles

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 beetles

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

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.

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.