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Common names

ironclad beetles, zopherid beetles

General distribution


Component taxa

26 genera and ~125 species (following Lawrence 1982, 1991)


Adult: Overall, body typically moderately flattened to somewhat convex; vestiture either lacking or composed of fine setae, scales; surface sometimes with tubercles, pits, or carinae and typically having secretions; length ranges from ~2-35mm. Head partially to greatly retracted into prothorax. Antennae 8-11 segmented, often with 1-3 segmented terminal club; antennae inserted into head beneath a frontal margin. Elytra often with distinct punctures, mostly aligned in serial rows. Hind wings often absent. Tarsi variable from 5-5-4 or 4-4-4, tarsomeres simple and not lobed underneath. Abdomen with 5 visible ventrites, ventrites 1-3, 1-4, or 1-5 connate. Metacoxae widely separated, i.e., by >1 metacoxal width.

Larva: Overall, body elongate, typically convex to subcylindrical, lightly sclerotized except for head and terminal abdominal segment or tips of urogomphi, length variable from 4-45mm in length but typically 30mm. Head protracted and prognathous, cardo internally divided, maxillary mala cleft, frontal arms lyriform, frontoclypeal suture absent or vaguely indicated. Mandibles robust, appearing symmetrical, and typically bi- or tridentate. Legs well-developed and 5-segmented. Asperities present on thoracic and most abdominal terga. Spiracles annular-biforous. Tenth abdominal segment well-developed without spines or pygopods. Urogomphi present.

Pest information

The majority of zopherid beetles live in areas of decomposition, especially rotting wood and other vegetation, and are generally considered to be fungivores. The genera Phloeodes and Zopherus (Zopherini) have anatomical modifications for boring into sound dead-wood, and may pose a potential hazard to lumber products.


Key player modified February 2018
Content last modified: February 4, 2011