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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Superfamily: Hydrophiloidea

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

There are five families, all of which are found in southern Africa. Four of them include exclusively aquatic species while in the largest family - the Hydrophilidae - there are both aquatic and terrestrial representatives. One of the characterisics of the family is that in most species the maxillary palps are as long or longer than the antennae. There are roughly 100 species of Hydrophiloidea known from southern Africa. 

Families encountered in southern Africa


Aquatic beetles found in mountain streams, stagnant waters and saline pools. They are able to move about on the underside of the water meniscus.  Larvae are also aquatic and have been found to feed on filamentous algae. 



Small aquatic beetles that are capable of walking on the underside of the surface film. Three species in a single genus (Spercheus) are known from southern Africa.



Small, elongate aquatic beetles. One known species from Southern Africa: Hydrochus capensis. 



Small, aquatic beetles, adults living in mud and gravel along the margins of still or slow-moving water. One known species in southern Africa but there are evidently a number of other undescribed species from this region. 



Diverse group of mainly aquatic beetles but with some species occupying terrestrial habitats. They range in size from minute (1 mm long) to large (50 mm). Fewer than 100 named species are known from South Africa but there are probably many undescribed species.