Larva of Lara avara, photographed by Larry Serpa.

Belongs within: Byrrhoidea.

The Elmidae are a group of mostly aquatic beetles (invariably aquatic as larvae) that feed on decaying vegetation and algae. They are mostly found in well-oxygenated habitats with rocky bottoms and clear waters. Larvae breath through retractile anal gills until the last instar when they develop functional spiracles and leave the water to pupate. Adults carry an air bubble when going underwater. In members of the subfamily Elminae, this air bubble is carried on a ventral plastron of hairs with the beetle's dorsum being glabrous or only sparsely pubescent. Members of the subfamily Larainae lack the ventral plastron but are densely pubescent above (Lawrence & Britton 1991). Certain members of the Elminae are specialised for subterranean habitats, including Anommatelmis botosaneanui and Lemalelmis species from Haiti and Troglelmis leleupi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Spangler 1986).

Characters (from Lawrence & Britton 1991): Small to minute, darkly pigmented, with moderately short, slender or slightly incrassate antennae, moderately to widely separated coxae, long legs with simple tarsi and long claws. Larvae onisciform to cylindrical, with movable operculum and paired hooks on S9 and three pairs of retractile anal gills. Adult Elminae glabrous or sparsely pubescent above but have ventral tomentose tracts that serve as a plastron; adult Larainae densely pubescent but lack a plastron.

<==Elmidae [Elminthidae, Helminthidae]
    |  i. s.: Urumaelmis uenoi (Nomura 1961) [=Zaitzevia uenoi] S86
    |         Zaitzevia B72
    |           |--Z. parvula B72
    |           `--Z. rufa Nomura & Baba 1961 I92
    |         Coxelmis P07
    |         Hydrethus B70
    |         Narpus angustus B72
    |--Larainae MW15
    |    |--Potamodytes schoutedeni Delève 1937 B14
    |    |--Stetholus elongatus LB91
    |    |--Hydora LB91
    |    |--Ovolara LB91
    |    |--Potamophilinus LB91
    |    `--Lara LeConte 1852 O08
    |         |--*L. avara LeConte 1852 O08
    |         `--L. gehringi Darlington 1929 O08
    `--Elminae MW15
         |--Dubiraphia bivittata (LeConte 1852) B14
         |--Austrolimnius waterhousei LB91
         |--Simsonia tasmanica LB91, C91
         |--Notriolus LB91
         |--Kingolus LB91
         |--Homalosolus hospitalis KB11
         |--Limnius KB11
         |    |--L. tuberculatus Müll. 1806 (see below for synonymy) G89
         |    `--L. volckmari KB11
         |--Macron quadrituberculatus KB11
         |--Oulimnius rivularis KB11
         |--Stenelmis canaliculata KB11
         |--Anommatelmis Spangler 1981 S86
         |    `--A. botosaneanui Spangler 1981 S86
         |--Troglelmis Jeannel 1950 S86
         |    `-T. leleupi Jeannel 1950 S86
         |--Elmis Latreille 1802 L02
         |    |--*E. maugetii Latreille 1802 L02
         |    |--E. tasmanicus Blackb. 1894 M96
         |    `--E. v-fasciatus Lea 1895 M96
         |--Lemalelmis Spangler 1981 S86
         |    |--L. fontana Spangler 1981 S86
         |    `--L. minyops Spangler 1981 S86
         `--Optioservus MW15

Limnius tuberculatus Müll. 1806 [incl. L. dargelasi Latr. 1807, L. fuscipes Reiche 1879, L. interruptus Fairm. 1884, L. subparallelus Fairm. 1863] G89

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B72] Bell, L. N. 1972. Notes on dry-season survival in two species of Elmidae (Coleoptera). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 48 (3): 218–219.

[B14] Bouchard, P. (ed.) 2014. The Book of Beetles: A lifesize guide to six hundred of nature's gems. Ivy Press: Lewes (United Kingdom).

[B70] Britton, E. B. 1970. Coleoptera (beetles). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers pp. 495–621. Melbourne University Press.

[C91] Chapman, R. F. 1991. General anatomy and function. In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 1 pp. 33–67. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[G89] Grouvelle, A. 1889. Divers renseignements relatifs au groupe des Helmis et la diagnose d'un Riolus nouveau. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, 6e série 9: lxxix–lxxx.

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[KB11] Kundrata, R., & L. Bocak. 2011. The phylogeny and limits of Elateridae (Insecta, Coleoptera): is there a common tendency of click beetles to soft-bodiedness and neoteny? Zoologica Scripta 40: 364–378.

[L02] Latreille, P. A. 1802. Histoire Naturelle des Fourmis, et recueil de mémoires et d’observations sur les abeilles, les araignées, les faucheurs, et autres insectes. Théophile Barrois père: Paris.

[LB91] Lawrence, J. F., & E. B. Britton. 1991. Coleoptera (beetles). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 2 pp. 543–683. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[M96] Masters, G. 1896. Catalogue of the described Coleoptera of Australia. Supplement, part II. Dytiscidae, Gyrinidae, Hydrophyllidae, Staphylinidae, Pselaphidae, Paussidae, Silphidae, Scaphididae, Histeridae, Phalacridae, Nitidulidae, Trogositidae, Colydiidae, Cucujidae, Cryptophagidae, Lathridiidae, Mycetophagidae, Dermestidae, Byrrhidae, Parnidae, Heteroceridae. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 21 (Suppl.): 695–754.

[MW15] McKenna, D. D., A. L. Wild, K. Kanda, C. L. Bellamy, R. G. Beutel, M. S. Caterino, C. W. Farnum, D. C. Hawks, M. A. Ivie, M. L. Jameson, R. A. B. Leschen, A. E. Marvaldi, J. V. McHugh, A. F. Newton, J. A. Robertson, M. K. Thayer, M. F. Whiting, J. F. Lawrence, A. Ślipiński, D. R. Maddison & B. D. Farrell. 2015. The beetle tree of life reveals that Coleoptera survived end-Permian mass extinction to diversify during the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution. Systematic Entomology 40 (4): 835–880.

[O08] Özdikmen, H. 2008. Nomenclatural changes for some preoccupied harvestman genus group names (Arachnida: Opiliones). Turkish Journal of Arachnology 1 (1): 37–43.

[P07] Proctor, H. C. 2007. Aquatic mites in assessments of stream invertebrate diversity. In: Morales-Malacara, J. B., V. M. Behan-Pelletier, E. Ueckermann, T. M. Pérez, E. G. Estrada-Venegas & M. Badii (eds) Acarology XI: Proceedings of the International Congress pp. 105–117. Instituto de Biología and Faculdad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Sociedad Latinoamericana de Acarología: México.

[S86] Spangler, P. J. 1986. Insecta: Coleoptera. In: Botosaneanu, L. (ed.) Stygofauna Mundi: A Faunistic, Distributional, and Ecological Synthesis of the World Fauna inhabiting Subterranean Waters (including the Marine Interstitial) pp. 622–631. E. J. Brill/Dr W. Backhuys: Leiden.

Last updated: 9 April 2022.

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