; subclass Pterygota, division Endopterygota)
An order of insects which have biting mouth-parts and in which the fore wings are modified into more or less horny, rigid elytra which meet medially when at rest and partly or wholly cover the hind wings and abdomen. When present, the hind wings are membranous and much folded when at rest. They are the sole means of flight, although the elytra are said to provide some lift in some groups. The head and well-developed prothorax form a distinct fore body, while the hind body comprises the meso- and metathorax and abdomen, covered by the elytra. The mesothorax is usually reduced, and the abdominal sterna (see sternum) are more strongly sclerotized than the tergites. The larvae have a distinct head capsule, with antennae and well-developed mandibles, and may or may not have thoracic legs. The pupae are adecticous and exarate. The Coleoptera is the largest order of animals and contains at least 350 000 species.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.