; subclass Pterygota, order Coleoptera)
Family of beetles, most of which are elongate, 1–28 mm long, and generally shining, black, black and red, or metallic. The elytra are short, leaving over half of the abdomen exposed. Some species are highly sculptured or pubescent. The head and mandibles are large, antennae filiform. The abdomen is highly flexible, and is often raised in a threat gesture. Many rove beetles are strong fliers. Larvae resemble wingless adults, with the hind part of the body generally paler, without toughened plates. Adults and larvae are found in damp places, decaying matter, and dung, where they prey on other insects. Many are associated with ants' nests, some producing sweet substances highly attractive to ants. Staphylinus olens (devil's coach horse), about 25 mm long, is Britain's largest staphylinid. Some tropical species produce chemicals that blister the skin and cause eye irritation. There are 27 000 species, making this the second largest beetle family (after the Curculionidae).
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.