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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Superfamily: Cantharoidea

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola > Holometabola > Coleoptera (beetles) > Polyphaga

Families in southern Africa


Small to medium-sized beetles (3-15mm), usually pale yellow to black in colour. The antennae are distinctive and are large and flabellate (fan-shaped. The females are larvae-like and wingless. Four species have been identified from southern Africa but unidentified material indicates that there are more. The larvae of some species prey on snails.


Lampyridae (fireflies, glow worms)

Small to large (3-30mm), soft-bodied beetles . They are elongate and parallel-sided, usually black or/and brown. The abdomens are mobile and bear light-producing organs - in the males usually on the last 2 segments and in the females, usually on the last segment.




Lycidae (net-winged beetles)

Small to medium sized (6-25mm), orange and black, soft-bodied beetles. The elytra bear intricate network of ridges, hence the name, although the patterning sometimes looks like filigree. The head is almost entirely hidden by the pronotum and the elytra are sometimes broadly expanded and these species look like seeds. Adults are active by day and occur on various plants and grasses and also feed on nectar. The larvae live in decaying wood and possibly feed on fungi. The orange and black colouration is mimicked by various insects as these animals contain cantharadin and are distasteful to birds and other predators.