Ant nest beetle

Ant nest beetles (subfamily Paussinae) or paussines, some members of which are known also as flanged bombardier beetles, are a large subfamily within the ground beetles (Carabidae). The tribes Metriini, Ozaenini, Paussini and Protopaussini are included in the subfamily.

Ant nest beetles
Cerapterus pilipennis (Male).jpg
Cerapterus pilipennis
(Paussini : Cerapterina)
Scientific classification

Latreille, 1807

Metriini LeConte, 1853
Ozaenini Hope 1838
Paussini Latreille, 1807
Protopaussini Gestro, 1892

Rarely seen, most Paussinae are obligate or facultative myrmecophiles, living within the nests of ants, predatory on ant larvae and workers. Many have elaborate antennal structures and body parts flattened. Paussines are moderate sized (6–20 mm), characterised by glandular hairs that produce secretions attractive to ants and by the odd antennal structures of many species. Their pygidial glands can produce explosive secretions, giving them the other name of flanged bombardier beetles although they are not particularly close relatives of the typical bombardier beetles (Brachininae).


Very little is known about the immature stages of ant nest beetles. Most appear to live in ant nests in their early stages of life. Although many are facultative or obligate myrmecophiles, most do not appear like ants (i.e. myrmecomorphic) and unlike in the case of myrmecophilous larval Lycaenidae, there appears to be no benefit gained by the ants in this association.[1] Many species follow the trails of worker ants of specific species. Glandular secretions on their antennae and body allow them to interact with ant workers.[2] It is believed that the beetles use an acoustic mechanism to successfully imitate the sounds of an ant queen thus permitting them access to the nest without alarming the ants.[3] The defensive bombardier behaviour is never used against ants. Males of some species are attracted to lights during some parts of the season and are thought to disperse from one ant nest to another. Males are thought to be short-lived. These beetles feed on ant eggs, larvae and adults by piercing their mandibles into the abdomen or other soft part and sucking the contents. Apart from chemical mimicry and communication with their hosts, they also make use of vibrations. Several stridulatory structures are found in these beetles including alary-elytral, abdomen-femur and thorax-femur combinations of surfaces.[4]


The subfamily Paussinae contains 49 genera, with around 800 species divided into the following tribes and subtribes:[5]

While some tribes like Metriini and Ozaenini appear quite similar to typical carabids, others have modified antennae and body shapes. The Protopaussini and Paussini are slender or compact in body shape with enlarged antennae in the Paussini.

Paussina species from South Africa

Tribe MetriiniEdit

Tribe OzaeniniEdit

Tribe PaussiniEdit

Subtribe Carabidomemnina Wasmann, 1928

Subtribe Cerapterina Billberg, 1820

Subtribe Heteropaussina Janssens, 1953

Subtribe Homopterina Janssens, 1953

Subtribe Paussina Latreille, 1807

Subtribe Pentaplatarthrina Jeannel, 1946

Tribe ProtopaussiniEdit


  1. ^ Moore, W; Xiao-bin Song; Andrea Di Giulio (2011). "The larva of Eustra (Coleoptera, Paussinae, Ozaenini):a facultative associate of ants". ZooKeys. 90: 63–82. doi:10.3897/zookeys.90.1136. PMC 3084492. PMID 21594107.
  2. ^ Cammaerts, R; C Detrain; M-C Cammaerts. "Host trail following by the myrmecophilous beetle Edaphopaussus favieri (Fairmaire) (Carabidae, Paussinae)" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Andrea Di Giulio; Emanuela Maurizi; Francesca Barbero; Marco Sala; Simone Fattorini; Emilio Balletto; Simona Bonelli. "The Pied Piper: A Parasitic Beetle's Melodies Modulate Ant Behaviours". PLOS ONE. 10: e0130541. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130541. PMC 4496082. PMID 26154266.
  4. ^ Geiselhardt, Stefanie F.; Klaus Peschke; Peter Nagel (2007). "A review of myrmecophily in ant nest beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Paussinae): linking early observations with recent findings". Naturwissenschaften. 94: 871–894. doi:10.1007/s00114-007-0271-x. PMID 17563864.
  5. ^ "Paussinae Latreille, 1807". Carabidae of the World. 2011. Retrieved 21 Jul 2011.