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The Cucujidae, "flat bark beetles," are a family of distinctively flat beetles found worldwide (except Africa and Antarctica) under the bark of dead trees. The family has received considerable taxonomic attention in recent years and now consists of 59 species distributed in four genera.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Cucujus coccinatus.JPG
Cucujus cocccinatus
Scientific classification

Latreille, 1802


Dorsal habitus of Palaestes abruptus

Included genera are: Cucujus Fabricius, with 14 species and subspecies distributed throughout the Holarctic; Palaestes Perty, 8 spp., Neotropical; Pediacus Shuckard, 31 spp., mostly Holarctic, but extending south into the Neotropics and to Australia; and Platisus Erichson, 5 spp. in Australia and New Zealand.

Dorsal habitus of Platisus coloniarius.

Cucujidae have elongate parallel-side bodies ranging from 6 to 25 mm in length. Most are brown colored, while others are black, reddish or yellow. Heads are triangular in shape, with filiform to moniliform antennae of 11 antennomeres, and large mandibles. The pronotum is narrower than the head.[7][8]

Dorsal habitus of Pediacus subglaber

Both larvae and adults live under bark, otherwise little is known of their habits. Larvae appear to be predacious [9]

The family was formerly larger, with subfamilies Laemophloeinae, Silvaninae, and Passandrinae (and some tenebrionoid genera mixed in), but recent revisions have raised the subfamilies to family status.[7]

Species with extreme freezing toleranceEdit

Cucujus clavipes puniceus (red flat bark beetle) found in arctic regions like Canada and Alaska [10] desiccates to 30–40% body water in winter vs 4% body water in the chironomid fly, Polypedilum vanderplanki. It uses a variety of anti-freeze proteins[11][12] in contrast with the non-protein xylomannan exploited by another arctic beetle Upis ceramboides.[10]


  1. ^ C. F. Lee and A. Pütz. (2008) A new species of Cucujus Fabricius, 1775 from China and key to the east–Palaearctic species of the genus (Coleoptera: Cucujidae). Entomologische Zeitschrift 118 (5): 211–213.
  2. ^ C. F. Lee and M. Satô. (2007) A Review of the Genus Cucujus Fabricius (Insecta: Cucujoidea: Cucujidae) from Taiwan, Japan, and China, with Descriptions of Two New Species and the Larvae of Cucujus mniszechi Grouvelle. Zoological Studies 46: 311–321.
  3. ^ Teresa Bonacci, Antonio Mazzei, Jakub Horákand, and Pietro Brandmayr. 2012. Cucujus tulliae sp. n. – an endemic Mediterranean saproxylic beetle from genus Cucujus Fabricius, 1775 (Coleoptera, Cucujidae), and keys for identification of adults and larvae native to Europe. Zookeys. 2012; (212): 63–79.
  4. ^ John W. M. Marris and Adam Ślipiński. 2014. A revision of the Pediacus Shuckard 1839 (Coleoptera: Cucujidae) of Asia and Australasia. Zootaxa 3754(1): 32–58.
  5. ^ Michael C. Thomas. 2004. A revision of Pediacus Shuckard (Coleoptera: Cucujidae) for America north of Mexico, with notes on other species. Insecta Mundi 17: 157–177 (2003).
  6. ^ J. C. Watt, J. W. M. Marris and J. Klimazsewski. 2001. A new species of Platisus (Coleoptera: Cucujidae) from New Zealand, described from the adult and larva. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 31: 327–339.
  7. ^ a b Michael C. Thomas (2002). "Family 82. Cucujidae Latreille 1802. Pp. 329–330". In Ross H. Arnett Jr.; Michael C. Thomas; Paul E. Skelley; J. H. Frank (eds.). American Beetles. Vol. 2. Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea. CRC Press, Boca Raton. pp. xiv + 861.
  8. ^ Michael C. Thomas and R.A.B. Leschen. 2010. Cucujidae Latreille, 1802. p. 350-354. In: Leschen, R.A.B., R.G. Beutel, and J.F. Lawrence. Coleoptera, Beetles. Vol. 2: Morphology and Systematics (Elateroidea, Bostrichiformia, Cucujiformia partim). Handbook of Zoology. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin.
  9. ^ D. B. Smith and M. K. Sears. 1982. Mandibular structure and feeding habits of three morphologically similar coleopterous larvae: Cucujus clavipes (Cucujidae), Dendroides canadensis (Pyrochroidae), and Pytho depressus (Salpingidae). Canadian Entomologist 114: 173–175.
  10. ^ a b Ned Rozell (Oct 2007). "Alaska beetles survive 'unearthly' temperatures".
  11. ^ Carrasco MA, Buechler SA, Arnold RJ, Sformo T, Barnes BM, Duman JG (Feb 2012). "Investigating the deep supercooling ability of an Alaskan beetle, Cucujus clavipes puniceus, via high throughput proteomics". J Proteomics. 75 (4): 1220–34. doi:10.1016/j.jprot.2011.10.034. PMID 22094879.
  12. ^ Sformo T, Walters K, Jeannet K, Wowk B, Fahy GM, Barnes BM, Duman JG (Feb 1, 2010). "Deep supercooling, vitrification and limited survival to −100{degrees}C in the Alaskan beetle Cucujus clavipes puniceus (Coleoptera: Cucujidae) larvae". J Exp Biol. 213 (3): 502–9. doi:10.1242/jeb.035758. PMID 20086136.