Clerine Checkered Beetle
Suborder: Polyphaga. Series: Cucujiformia. Superfamily: Cleroidea. Family: Cleridae. Subfamily: Clerinae
Kruger National Park, Balule
Cleridae are a family of beetles of the superfamily Cleroidea. They are commonly known as checkered beetles. The Cleridae family has a worldwide distribution, and a variety of habitats and feeding preferences. Cleridae have a large number of niches and feeding habits. Adults are found on flowers, foliage of woody plants and tree trunks, and are sometimes attracted to lights. Most genera are predaceous and feed on other beetles and larvae; however other genera are scavengers or feed on pollen and bectar.
Female Cleridae lay between 28–42 eggs at a time predominately under the bark of trees. Larvae are predaceous and feed vigorously before pupation and subsequently emergence as adults. The slender, cylindrical larvae, some of which are brightly coloured, commonly occur in dead wood. They prey on larvae of wood-boring beetles and grasshopper egg pods, or parasitize bees and wasps. Others feed on stored animal products or carrion.
Clerids have elongated slightly flattened and parallel-sided bodies with large heads and bristly hairs, are usually bright colored, and have variable antennae. Checkered beetles range in length between 3 and 24 mm. Most are brightly coloured, some banded brown, black and white. The antennae are clubbed at the tip for most species, but others can be serratae. The pronotum region is nearly cylindrical and characteristically narrower than the elytra (special hardened front wings), while the head is as wide or wider than the pronotum. Their elytra have tiny pits or depressions, and never expose more than two tergites (dorsal plates).
Their tarsal formula is 5–5–5, meaning that on each of the front, middle and hind legs there are 5 tarsomeres (individual subsegments of the feet/tarsi). One or more of these subsegments on each leg is typically lobed, and the 4th tarsi is normally difficult to distinguigh. Furthermore, an important feature that eliminates many other families of beetles is that Clerids' front coxae (base of the leg) expose the second segment of the legs known as the trochanter.
The second defining characteristic of the Cleridae family is that Clerids never have eversible vesicles (small usually hidden balloon-like structures thought to be scent glands) on their abdomen and pronotum. This characteristic distinguishes them from a similar family Melyridae which sometimes has these glands. This trait is very important in correctly differentiating checkered beetles from Melyridae.