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a family of beetles of the suborder Polyphaga. Members of the family may be tiny (body length, 2 mm) or quite large (50 mm). They are usually black, sometimes brown or brightly striped or spotted; in rare cases they may be white or have a metallic sheen. The body may be spherical or rod-shaped. The feet of the anterior and median legs are five-segmented, and those of the posterior legs are four-segmented. The beetles do not fly, and most species lack a posterior pair of wings. Because the larvae are cylindrical, hard, and usually yellow, resembling wireworms, they are referred to as false wire worms. They feed on the rootlets of plants. The adult beetles are polyphagous. Many species of Tenebrionidae excrete pungent defensive fluids. They are usually nocturnal or crepuscular.
The family consists of approximately 17,000 species, which are distributed over the entire globe except the polar regions. They are especially numerous in steppes and deserts, as well as in forests. The USSR has more than 1,000 species, which are mainly encountered in Middle Asia, Kazakhstan, and the Caucasus. Larval and adult representatives of some species damage crops and pasture plants. Others damage food stores, developing in grain, flour, and flour products; these include the darkling beetles Tenebrio molitor and T. confusum.
REFERENCEMedvedev, G. S. Zhuki-chernotelki (Tenebrionidae). Podsemeistvo Opatrinae. Leningrad, 1968 (Fauna SSSR. Zhestkokrylye, vol. 19, no. 2.)
O. L. KRYZHANOVSKII