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Coleoptera of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Species Pages

Family Histeridae

            Tribe Histerini

 Hister abbreviatus Fabricius

Description and Taxonomy

Length 4.1-6.0 mm. The genus belongs to the tribe Histerini, which is characterized by the presence of expanded prosternal lobe, free labrum, antennal cavities situated under anterior angles of pronotum, dentate protibiae with straight protarsal furrow, antennal club with annuli not V-shaped, mesosternum without median projection and prosternal base without emargination (Kryzhanovskij & Reichardt 1976, Kovarik & Caterino 2000).  Five-six genera of Histerini are known in N America (Kovarik & Caterino 2000, Bousquet & Lapalante 2006), and three are present in GSMNP. Hister may be diagnosed by the at least slightly emarginate outline of the anterior margin of the mesosternum and lack of a complete innner subhumeral striae on elytra. This striae present in some species, but at most in the apical half of the elytra. Twenty-five described species in the genus occur in N. America, five of which are found in GSMNP. This species may be diagnosed by the presence of both subhumeral striae on elytra and deep crenulate dorsal striae.

Life History

This one of the most common N. American histerids, inhabiting a wide variety of decomposing organic matters, including carrion, dung, mushrooms, compost etc. (Caterino 1999, Bousquet & Lapalante 2006).  Cow and horse dung seems to be preferred substrates (Caterino1999), and the species may be important in regulating population of dung flies (Summerlin et al. 1984). In GSMNP, the species was collected at several localities at 370-1515 m elevation.


 Widespread in N. America, ranging from southern British Columbia and New Brunswick to northern California, central Mexico and southern Florida  (Caterino1999, Bousquet & Lapalante 2006).

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.

Caterino, M. S. 1999. The taxonomy and phylogenetics of the coenosus group of Hister Linnaeus (Coleoptera: Histeridae).  Univ. of California Publications in Entomology 119: 1-75.

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.

Kryzhanovskij, O. L. and A. N. Reichardt. 1976. Histeroidea. fauna of the USSR. Vol. V (4). Nauka: Moscow - Leneingrad. 433 pp.

Summerlin, J. W., D. E. Bay, K. C. I. Stafford, and J. S. I. Hunter. 1984. Laboratory observations on the life cycle and habits of Hister abbreviatus. Annals of the  Entomological Society of America 77: 543-547.


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

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