Rove Beetles (Staphylinidae)

Rove beetles are classified as the largest extant family of organisms with over 63,000 member species. Even fossilized specimens have been discovered, with some dating back to the Triassic period.

Common Beetles Belonging to this Family

  • Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle (Ocypus olens)
  • Pictured Rove Beetle (Thinopinus pictus)
  • Paederus fuscipes
  • Velleius dilatatus
  • Quedius minor
  • Erymus gracilis
  • Neotrabisus quadrioculatus

Scientific Classification

These beetles are separated into subfamilies, divided into several tribes consisting of genera.

  • Aleocharinae
  • Apateticinae
  • Dasycerinae
  • Empelinae
  • Euaesthetinae
  • Glypholomatinae
  • Habrocerinae
  • Leptotyphlinae
  • Megalopsidiinae
  • Micropeplinae
  • Microsilphinae
  • Neophoninae
  • Olisthaerinae
  • Omaliinae
  • Osoriinae
  • Oxyporinae
  • Oxytelinae
  • Paederinae
  • Phloeocharinae
  • Piestinae
  • Proteininae
  • Protopselaphinae
  • Pselaphinae
  • Pseudopsinae
  • Scaphidiinae
  • Solieriinae
  • Staphylininae
  • Steninae
  • Tachyporinae
  • Trichophyinae
  • Trigonurinae

Physical Description and Identification


Size: 0.039-1.57 in (0.1-4 cm)

Color: Varies greatly, from black to blue to brown, red to green to yellow.

Other Characteristic Features: Their elytra are short, covering only half of the abdomen. The abdomen is very flexible and elongated and is capable of folding into an origami shape.


The larvae are off-white, with a brown head.


Pupae are white, exarate, and unsclerotized, with the subfamily Staphylininae being the exception with a sclerotized body.


They are white, with shapes varying from spherical to pear-shaped to spheroidal.

Quick Facts

Lifespan 40-72 days
Distribution Worldwide, including Australia, South America, and Mexico
Habitat Moist environments like sea shores, river banks, and decaying vegetation
Predators Amphibians, bats, birds, certain beetles, reptiles, and spiders
Seasons active Warm weather
Host Plants Leaf litter
Diet of adults Eggs and larvae of root maggots and insects like  springtails and mites

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

While these beetles do not sting or bite, species belonging to the subfamily Paederinae contain a toxin in their bodily fluids. One of the components of this toxin is pederin, a venom more potent than that produced by a cobra. Exposure to pederin causes a skin condition called dermatitis linearis.

Did You Know

  • French zoologist Pierre André Latreille first described this family of beetles in 1802.