What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Australian Silphidae are associated with vertebrate carcasses, but Ptomaphila lacrymosa adults have also been observed feeding on maggots; in other parts of the world there are phytophagous forms, as well as carrion feeders and those which prey on snails.


Relatively large and flattened beetles with a distinctive antenna (large, 3-segmented, slightly asymmetrical and finely pilose club preceded by at least one glabrous, strongly transverse, concave segment reminiscent of hydrophilid cupule, unlike Hydrophilidae, silphids have relatively long, 11-segmented antennae. Body either glabrous or clothed with very short, fine hairs; eyes moderately large and protuberant; fore coxae large and projecting, all tarsal segments clothed beneath with yellow hairs. In Ptomaphila the elytra are provided with short, longitudinal ridges and tubercles and completely conceal the abdomen, while in Diamesus they are carinate and truncate, exposing 4 or 5 abdominal tergites. Larvae broad, depressed, and heavily sclerotised, with lateral, plate-like expansions on thorax and abdomen.


Diamesus osculans is widely distributed from India and Indonesia, through Papua New Guinea to northern and eastern Australia; P. lacrymosa occurs in the south-eastern and south-western part of the continent; and P. perlata is confined to the eastern coast from East Gippsland to Cape York. Oxelytrum , the apparent sister group of Ptomaphila , occurs in Central and South America. [Peck and Anderson 1985; O. P. Young 1983.]

  • Ptomaphila lacrymosa

  • Diamesus osculans