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Coleoptera of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Species Pages

Family Histeridae

            Tribe Saprinini

Geomysaprinus triangulifer (Marseul)

Description and Taxonomy

Length 2.9-3.5 mm. The genus belongs to the subfamily Saprininae (not further subdivided into tribes), which is characterized by relatively large robust bodies, often with metallic luster, lack of prosternal lobe and antennal cavities situated alongside prosternal keel (Kovarik & Caterino 2000). Three genera of saprinines, Euspilotus, Ganthoncus and Geomysaprinus, are known in the GSMNP. They differ in the patterns of prosternal striae and foveae. Geomysaprinus has the carinal stria free and lateral striae ending in the prosternal foveae. Tenty-seven described and several undescribed N. American species are available in collections (Kovarik & Caterino 2000). Taxonomy of the genus is not well worked out, even for the eastern N. American fauna, so the species identifications may be problematic. So far, only one species is reported for the GSMNP with confidence, and identification of at least one more species collected there is tentative. This species is characterized by carinal striae united in a characteristic narrow acute triangle and the presence of two almost circular striae near the apex of the pygidium in females.

Life History

The life history of this species is virtually unknown. It has been collected almost exclusively by passive methods (Tishechkin, unpublished). Most of the Geomysaprinus species are obligate inhabitants of pocket gopher, prairie dog and ground squirrel burrows (Kovarik & Caterino 2000). However, several species in the subgenus Priscosaprinus where G. triangulifer belongs are associated with Eastern hardwood forests where those fossorial rodents are absent. Furthermore, they lack characters considered to be common adaptations of burrow specialists, e.g. elongate tibia and tarsi, enlarged eyes, flattened anterior pronotal angles. More generalized habits and connections with some type of decomposing organic matter seem to be more plausible for those Geomysaprinus species and G. triangulifer in particular. In GSMNP, it has been collected only once using red oak canopy fogging at 815 m elevation


Widely distributed in south-eastern N. America, down to central Texas and Florida, but northern limits of the range are poorly known (Peck & Thomas 2006, Tishechkin, unpublished). It is not known from Canada (Bousquet & Laplante 2006) and the GSMNP record along with eastern Oklahoma may be the northernmost known localities (Mazur 1997).

Conservation Concerns

Not under threat.

Locality records in GSMNP.


Development of these pages was supported by grants from Discover Life in America and the National Science Foundation (DEB-0516311).


Bousquet, Y. and S. Laplante. 2006.  Coleoptera Histeridae. The insects and arachnids of Canada. Part 24. NRC Research Press, Ottawa. 485 pp.

Kovarik, P.W. and M. S. Caterino.  2000. Histeridae. Pp. 212-227 in: Arnett, R. H. and M. C. Thomas (eds.) American beetles. Vol. 1. CRC Press, Boca Raton  - London - New York - Washington.

Mazur, S. A World catalogue of the Histeridae. Biologica Silesiae, Wroclaw. 373 pp.

Peck, S. B and M. C. Thomas. 1998. A distributional checklist of the beetles (Coleoptera) of Florida. Arthropods of Florida. Volume 16. Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Gainesville. 180 pp.


 Posted 13 August 2007, A. K. Tishechkin, Louisiana State Arthropod Museum.

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