; subclass Pterygota, order Coleoptera)
Family of beetles which occur as adults in a great variety of sizes and shapes. Many are flightless, with vestigial wings, and fused elytra, which are usually brown to black. They are adapted to living in very dry conditions; some are highly specialized desert species. A number contain blistering chemicals which they spray on attackers. Larvae are long and cylindrical, the body covered with toughened plates. Several are pests of stored products (e.g. the larvae of Tenebrio molitor (mealworms) which feed on flour). There are 15 000 species.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.