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an extensive family of beetles that unites two large groups, Coprinae and Melolonthinae, which differ in terms of habit and structure. The body length is from 2 to 150 mm. The antennae are jointed, with a lamellate or, less commonly, conical club that is capable of being spread fanwise. The tibiae of the forelegs and, often, the anterior margin of the head are adapted for digging. The males often have horns and protuberances on the head and pronotum. The larvae, which are fleshy, white, and C-shaped, have powerful jaws.
There are as many as 15,000 species; in the USSR about 1,000 species are encountered. The beetles are widely distributed but are most numerous in the tropics. They feed on dung, the above-ground parts and juices of plants, and, less commonly, carcasses. Some species do not feed. The larvae feed on roots, plant remains, and dung. They develop in soil, piles of plant remains, rotten wood, rodent burrows, and anthills. In many species, the parents prepare the food for the young in special burrows in the ground. Some species, such as the grain beetle and the cockchafer, cause great damage to agricultural crops and forests. At the same time, the beetles play a beneficial role in the cycle of matter in nature because of their natural characteristics (especially Coprinae).
REFERENCEMedvedev, S. I. “Plastinchatousye.” In Fauna SSSR. Nasekomye zhestkokrylye, vol. 10, issues 1–5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949–64.
O. L. KRYZHANOVSKII