Aquatic Insects of Michigan

by Ethan Bright, Museum of Zoology Insect Division and School of Natural Resources and Environment
University of Michigan

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    Elmidae (Riffle Beetles) of Michigan

    Larva of Dubiraphia sp. (Copyright © 2005 Ethan Bright)
    Adult Macronychus glabratus (Copyright © 2005 Ethan Bright)

    These are small beetles, with adults of about 2-3 mm in length. All larvae and adults of our species are aquatic and herbivorous, and live on rocks and logs, slowly walking on the surface of their preferred substrate. Adults, after emerging from the pupa on land, engage in a dispersal flight and enter the water. Juveniles occur together with adults in the water, and are easy to collect. Larvae are more mobile than adults, with anal gills protruding an air bubble that provides bouyancy as well as functioning as a source of dissolved oxygen. Similarly, emerging adults, upon re-entering the water, take a thin sheet of air under the plastron into the water and maintain their oxygen from the surrounding water.The larval stage of 5-6 instars usually requires 2-3 years, depending on species, size and temperature. Adults mate in water, and females attach their eggs singly or in small clusters to rock or vegetation. An excellent summary of the biology of this group remains Brown (1987).

    Genera are donoted in bold green; species denoted in bold blue have been recorded in Michigan; other species denoted in bold are likely to occur based on their known distribution. You can use the Find function in your web browser to locate families, genera, and species. Synonomous species (indented) are listed below the current valid species (denoted in bold) with its taxonomic status indicated.

      Elmidae Curtis, 1830*: 294

        Ancyronyx Erichson, 1847*: 522 (Subfamily Elminae, Tribe Ancyronychini)

          Ancyronyx variegatus (Germar, 1824*: 89 as Macronychus.) - Brown 1983:3; Bright, pers. obs., Rouge River, Wayne Co.
            (syn.) Elmis cincta Say, 1825*: 186 (syn.) Hydrochus parumoculatus Hardy, 1852: 270

        Dubiraphia Sanderson, 1954*: 4 (Subfamily Elminae, Tribe Elmini)
          Dubiraphia bivittata (LeConte, 1852*: 44 as Elmis) - see also Brown 1983:4
          Dubiraphia minima Hilsenhoff, 1973*: 59 - Yanoviak and McCafferty 1996:205; also IN, OH, WI (Brown 1983:4)
          Dubiraphia quadrinotata (Say, 1825*: 187 as Elmis) - UMMZ (Rice Creek, Calhoun Co., 01-Aug-1949, leg. V.S. Pratt, det. Sanderson, MW 1950), NMNH (web page database); see also Brown 1983:4
          Dubiraphia robusta Hilsenhoff, 1973*: 59 - WI, expect in w. UP (Hilsenhoff 1973:59; Brown 1983:4)
          Dubiraphia vittata (Melsheimer, 1844*: 99 as Elmis) - Brown 1983:5; NMNH (web page database)

        Macronychus Müller, 1806*: 207 (Subfamily Elminae, Tribe Macronychini)
          Macronychus glabratus Say, 1825*: 187 - UMMZ; Bright coll.; Brown 1983:12; Yanoviak and McCafferty 1996:205
            (syn.) Macronychus lateralis Melsheimer, 1844*: 99

        Microcylloepus Hinton, 1935*: 178 (Subfamily Elminae, Tribe Elmini)
          Microcylloepus pusillus (LeConte, 1852*: 44 as Stenelmis) - ON, WI, expect in w. UP (Brown 1983:6)

        Optioservus Sanderson, 1954*: 8 (Subfamily Elminae, Tribe Elmini)
          Optioservus fastiditus (LeConte, 1850*: 218 as Limnius) - Brown 1983:8; Yanoviak and McCafferty 1996:205; UMMZ (Rice Creek, Calhoun Co., 01-Aug-1949, leg. V.S. Pratt, det. Sanderson, MW 1950; Spring Brook, Kalamazoo Co., det. Sanderson, MW 1950)
          Optioservus trivittatus (Brown, 1930a*: 91 as Limnius) - Brown 1983:9; Yanoviak and McCafferty 1996:205; UMMZ (Rice Creek, Calhoun Co., 01-Aug-1949, leg. V.S. Pratt, det. Sanderson, MW 1950)

        Stenelmis Dufour, 1835*: 158 (Subfamily Elminae, Tribe Elmini)
          Stenelmis antennalis Sanderson, 1938*: 695 - MN, WI
          Stenelmis bicarinata LeConte, 1852*: 44
            (syn.) Stenelmis maerkelii Motschulsky, 1854*: 12
            (syn.) Stenelmis vittipennis Zimmerman, 1869*: 259
          Stenelmis crenata (Say, 1824: 181 as Elmis) - Brown 1983:10; Yanoviak and McCafferty 1996:205
            (syn.) Stenelmis sordida Motschulsky, 1859: 51
          Stenelmis decorata Sanderson, 1938*: 701 - Schmude 1992
          Stenelmis douglasensis Sanderson, 1938*: 685 - Brown 1983:10 (holotype from Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co.)
          Stenelmis fuscata Blatchley, 1925*: 164 - WI
          Stenelmis grossa Sanderson, 1938*: 686 - Schmude 1992
          Stenelmis lignicola Schmude & Brown, in Schmude, Barr & Brown 1992*: 583 - Kalamazoo Co., Gull Lake Biological Station, specimen at Cook Collection - Schumde et al. 1992
            (syn.) Stenelmis convexula Brown, 1956*: 38
            (syn.) Stenelmis markelii [sic] Finni and Skinner 1975*: 390
            (syn.) Stenelmis crenata, S. sulcata Patrick 1961*: 255
            (syn.) Stenelmis bicarinata, S. convexula, S. crenata, S. decorata (in part), S. hungerfordi (in part), S. sulcata Patrick et al. 1967*: 378-379
            (syn.) Stenelmis spp. Benke 1984*: 40 (in part)
          Stenelmis mera Sanderson, 1938a*: 682 - Schmude 1992
          Stenelmis musgravei Sanderson, 1938*: 698 - see also Brown 1983:11
          Stenelmis quadrimaculata Horn, 1870*: 40 - Brown 1983:11
            (syn.) Stenelmis sulcata Blatchley, 1910*: 681
            (syn.) Stenelmis blatchleyi Musgrave, 1933*: 57
          Stenelmis sandersoni Musgrave, 1940*: 48
            (syn.) Stenelmis tarsalis Sanderson, 1938*: 675
          Stenelmis sexlineata Sanderson, 1938*: 663 - Schmude 1992

      References - Elmidae

        Benke AC, Van Arsdall TC, Jr., Gillespie DM, Parrish FK. 1984. Invertebrate productivity in a subtropical blackwater river: the importance of habitat and life history. Ecological Monographs 54: 25-63.
        Blatchley WS. 1910. An illustrated descriptive catalogue of the Coleoptera or beetles (exclusive of the Rhynchophoral known to occur in Indiana with bibliography and descriptions of new species. Bulletin no. 1 Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources. Indianapolis, Indiana, 1386 pp., illus. Reprinted by Nature Publishing Co. in 1910. VIEW .
        Blatchley WS. 1925. Notes on the distribution and habits of some Florida Coleoptera with descriptions of new species. The Canadian Entomologist 57: 160·168.
        Brown HP. 1956. Riffle beetles in Oklahoma. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 36: 38.
        Brown HP. 1972. Aquatic dyropoid beetles (Coleoptera) of the United States. Biota of Freshwater Ecosystems Identification Manual No. 6. United States Environmental Protection Agency Project # 18050, Contract # 14-12-894, April 1972. x + 82 pp.
        Brown HP. 1983. A catalog of the Coleoptera of America north of Mexica. Family: Elmidae. United States Department of Agriculture Handbook 529-50. x + 23 pp. (PDF)
        Brown WJ. 1930a. New species of Coleoptera I. The Canadian Entomologist 62: 87-92.
        Curtis J. 1930. British entomology, vol. 7. Unnumbered pages, pls. 290-337. Author, London.
        Dufour L. 1835. Recherches anatomiques et considérations entomologiques sur les insectes coléoptères des genres Macronique et Elmis. Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Series Zoologie 2(3): 151-174, pls. 6-7.
        Erichson WF. 1847. Naturgeschichte der Insecten Deutschlands. Abtheilung 1, Coleoptera., Dritter Band, Vierte Lieferung, pp. 481-640. Nicolaische Buchhandlung, Berlin. (PDF)
        Finni GR, Skinner BA. 1975. The Elmidae and Dryopidae (Coleoptera: Dryopoidea) of Indiana. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 48: 388-395.
        Germar EF. 1824. Insectorum species novae aut minus cognitae, descriptionibus illustratae. Volumen primum, Coleoptera. Impensis J.C. Hendelii et Filii, Halae. xxiv + 624 pp. (PDF)
        Hilsenhoff WL. 1973. Notes on Dubiraphia (Coleoptera: Elmidae), with the description of five new species. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 66(1): 55-61.
        Hilsenhoff WL, Schmude KL. 1992. Riffle beetles of Wisconsin (Coleoptera: Dryopidae, Elmidae, Lutrochidae, Psephenidae) with notes on distribution, habitat, and identification. The Great Lakes Entomologist 25(3):191-209. VIEW.
        Hinton HE. 1935. Notes on the Dryopoidea (Col.). Stylops 4(8): 169-179.
        Horn GH. 1870. Synopsis of the Parnidae of the United States. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 3: 29-42.
        LeConte JL. 1850. General remarks upon the Coleoptera of Lake Superior, pp. 201-242 + pl. 8 in Agassiz JLR, Cabot JE (eds.), Lake Superior: Its physical character, vegetation and animals. Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, Boston. x + 428 pp. + 8 pls. (PDF)
        Le Conte JL. 1852. Synopsis of the Parnidae of the United States. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 6: 41-45.
        Melsheimer FE. 1844. Descriptions of new species of Coleoptera of the United States. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2: 98-118.
        Motschulsky TV, von. 1854. Voyages. Lettre de M. de Motschulsky a M. Menetries. Etudes Entomologiques, pt. 3, pp. 1-15.
        Müller PWJ. 1806. Macronychus, Krallenkäfer. Eine neue Käfergattung. Magazin für Insektenkunde 5: 207-220.
        Musgrave PN. 1933. New species of Helmidae (Coleoptera). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 35(4): 54-57. VIEW.
        Musgrave PN. 1940. A new name: Elmidae (Coleoptera). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 42(2): 48. VIEW.
        Patrick R. 1961. A study of the numbers and kinds of species found in rivers in eastern United States. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 113: 215-258. JSTOR.
        Patrick R, Cairns J, Jr., Roback SS. 1967. An ecosystematic study of the fauna and flora of the Savannah River. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 118: 109-407.
        Sanderson MW. 1938. A monographic revision of the North American species of Stenelmis (Dryopidae: Coleoptera). The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 25(22): 635-717. Dissertation version.
        Sanderson MW. 1954. A revision of the Nearctic genera of Elmidae (Coleoptera). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 27: 1-13.
        Say T. 1825. Descriptions of new species of coleopterous insects inhabiting the United States. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 5(1): 160-240. VIEW.
        Schmude KL. 1992. Revision of the riffle beetle genus Stenelmis (Coleoptera: Elmidae) in North America, with notes on bionomics. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin. 388 pp.
        Schmude KL, Barr CB, Brown HP. 1992. Stenelmis lignicola and Stenelmis xylonastis, two new North American species of wood-inhabiting riffle beetles (Coleoptera: Elmidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 94(4): 580-594.
        Zimmermann CCA. 1869. Synonymical notes on Coleoptera of the United States, with descriptions of new species, from the MSS of the late Dr. C. Zimmermann. Edited by John L. LeConte, M.D. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 2: 243- 259. VIEW.
    Page edits:
        June 21, 2020
        • Created separate species-list page for Elmidae, allowing for Coleoptera pages to be more manageable. Added more links to original literature.
        November 21, 2012
        • Beginning to keep track of changes to the web site pages
        • Removed individual pages for families into one long list, families accessed from left menu via anchor redirects within page.

      Page created: November 01, 2002; Last update June 21, 2020 (EB)