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Insect Fossils: Buprestidae

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Coleopterida
Ordo: Coleoptera
Subordo: Polyphaga
Infraordo: Elateriformia
Superfamilia: Buprestoidea

Familia: Buprestidae
Subfamiliae (7): Agrilinae - Buprestinae - Chrysochroinae - Galbellinae - Julodinae - Polycestinae- †Parathyreinae


Buprestidae Leach, 1815


Leach, W.E. 1815. Entomology [pp. 57–172]. In: Brewster, D. (Ed). Brewster’s Edinburgh Encyclopedia. Volume IX [part I]. W. Blackwood, J. Waugh, etc., Edinburgh, 764 pp. BHL Reference page.
Bílý, S. 2018. Corrections to and comments on the publication dealing with the type specimens of Buprestidae (Coleoptera) deposited in NFIC, Dehradun, India. Zootaxa 4444(1): 92–94. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4444.1.6 Paywall Reference page.
Ghahari, H., Volkovitsh, M.G. & †Bellamy, C.L. 2015: An annotated catalogue of the Buprestidae of Iran (Coleoptera: Buprestoidea). Zootaxa 3984(1): 1–141. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3984.1.1. Preview (PDF) ISBN 978-1-77557-743-0 (paperback); ISBN 978-1-77557-744-7 (Online edition) Reference page.
Kalashian, M.Yu.; Volkovitsh, M.G. 2009: New species of the buprestid genus Sphenoptera Dejean from India and Pakistan with notes on the synonymy and nomenclature of some species of the subgenus Sphenoptera s. str. (Coleoptera, Buprestidae). Entomological review, 89(4): 437–450. DOI: 10.1134/S0013873809040083
Viette, P.; Bellamy, C.L.; Aberlenc, H.-P. 2009: Catalogue of Madagascan and adjacent islands Buprestidae (Bellamy 2006): addenda & corrigenda. Zootaxa, 2197: 64–68. Abstract & excerpt
Catalogue of Palearctic Coleoptera. Vol. 3 ed. I. Lobl, & A. Smetana, Apollo Books, Stenstrup, Denmark, 2006
ISBN 87-88757-59-5, p.325

Additional references

Bellamy, C.L. 1993: A list of the primary types of Buprestidae (Coleoptera) in the U.S. National Museum of Natural History. Giornale italiano di entomologia, 6(34): 357–378. PDF Reference page.
Bílý, S. & Volkovitsh, M.G. 2017. New unavailable names in Buprestidae (Coleoptera) and a short comment on the electronic publication of new names. Zootaxa 4243(2): 371–372. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4243.2.6. Reference page.
Westcott, R.L. & Bílý, S. 2018. Lectotype designations in Acmaeodera Eschscholtz and Anthaxia Eschscholtz, and new synonymy in Phaenops Dejean and Anthaxia (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Zootaxa 4471(3): 590–594. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4471.3.11 Paywall Reference page.


Australian Faunal Directory
Jewel Beetles (Coleoptera:Buprestidae). Maurizio Gigli.
Atlas of jewel beetles (Buprestidae) of Russia
The World of Jewel Beetles – World Checklist. C. L. Bellamy.

Vernacular names
беларуская: Златкі
čeština: Krascovití
Deutsch: Prachtkäfer
English: Jewel beetle / Metallic wood boring beetle
français: Bupreste
日本語: タマムシ科
lietuvių: Blizgiavabaliai
norsk: Prachtkevers
polski: Bogatkowate
русский: Златки
српски / srpski: Красци
svenska: Praktbaggar
ไทย: แมลงทับ
中文: 吉丁蟲科

Buprestidae is a family of beetles known as jewel beetles or metallic wood-boring beetles because of their glossy iridescent colors. Larvae of this family are known as flatheaded borers. The family is among the largest of the beetles, with some 15,500 species known in 775 genera. In addition, almost 100 fossil species have been described.[1]

The larger and more spectacularly colored jewel beetles are highly prized by insect collectors. The elytra of some Buprestidae species have been traditionally used in beetlewing jewellery and decoration in certain countries in Asia, like India, Thailand and Japan.

Description and ecology

Shape is generally cylindrical or elongate to ovoid, with lengths ranging from 3 to 80 mm (0.12 to 3.15 in), although most species are under 20 mm (0.79 in). Catoxantha, Chrysaspis, Euchroma and Megaloxantha contain the largest species. A variety of bright colors are known, often in complicated patterns. The iridescence common to these beetles is not due to pigments in the exoskeleton, but instead is caused by structural coloration, in which microscopic texture in their cuticle selectively reflects specific frequencies of light in particular directions. This is the same effect that makes a compact disc reflect multiple colors.

The larvae bore through roots, logs, stems, and leaves of various types of plants, ranging from trees to grasses. The wood boring types generally favor dying or dead branches on otherwise-healthy trees, while a few types attack green wood; some of these are serious pests capable of killing trees and causing major economic damage, such as the invasive emerald ash borer. Some species are attracted to recently burned forests to lay their eggs. They can sense pine wood smoke from up to 50 miles away, and can see infrared light, helping them to zero in as they get closer to a forest fire.[2]

Ten species of flatheaded borers of the family Buprestidae feed on spruce and fir, but hemlock is their preferred food source (Rose and Lindquist 1985).[3] As with roundheaded borers, most feeding occurs in dying or dead trees, or close to injuries on living trees. Damage becomes abundant only where a continuing supply of breeding material is available. The life history of these borers is similar to that of the roundheaded borers, but some exceedingly long life cycles have been reported under adverse conditions. Full-grown larvae, up to 25 mm long, are characteristically flattened, the anterior part of the body being much broader than the rest. The bronzed adults are usually seen only where suitable material occurs in sunny locations.

Jewel beetle classification is not yet robustly established, although there appear to be five or six main lineages, which may be considered subfamilies, possibly with one or two being raised to families in their own right. Some other systems define up to 14 subfamilies.
Subfamilies and selected Genera

The commonly accepted subfamilies, with some representative genera, are:
Oak Splendour Beetle (Agrilus biguttatus) specimen (Agrilinae)
Eurythyrea austriaca specimen (Buprestinae)
Temognatha alternata, a Buprestinae 2.6cm long from Cooktown, Australia
Capnodis cariosa specimen (Chrysochroinae)
Julodis ehrenbergii specimen from Greece (Julodinae)
Acmaeodera species (Polycestinae)

Agrilinae – cosmopolitan, with most taxa occurring in the Northern Hemisphere

Agrilus Curtis, 1825
Anodontodora Obenberger, 1931
Asymades Kerremans, 1893
Brachys Dejean, 1833
Chalcophlocteis Obenberger, 1924
Discoderoides Théry, 1936
Entomogaster Saunders, 1871
Ethiopoeus Bellamy, 2008
Madecorformica Bellamy, 2008
Meliboeus Deyrolle, 1864
Pachyschelus Solier, 1833
Paracylindromorphus Thery, 1930
Paradorella Obenberger, 1923
Pseudokerremansia Bellamy & Holm, 1985
Strandietta Obenberger, 1931
†Burmagrilus Jiang et al. 2021 Burmese amber, Myanmar, Cenomanian

Buprestinae – cosmopolitan

Agrilozodes Thery, 1927
Anthaxia Eschscholtz, 1829
Calodema – found only in Australia and New Guinea; usually in rain forests
Castiarina – about 500 species, found only in Australia and New Guinea, previously considered a subgenus of Stigmodera
Metaxymorpha – found only in Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia; usually in rain forests
Stigmodera – 7 species remain here
Temognatha – About 83-85 species, found only in Australia and New Guinea, previously considered a subgenus of Stigmodera


Chrysodema Laporte & Gory, 1835 (= Cyalithoides)
Lampetis Dejean, 1833 – sometimes included in the tribe Psilopterini, but actually not very close to Psiloptera (tentatively placed here)
Psiloptera (tentatively placed here)






"The first fossil buprestids from the Middle Jurassic Jiulongshan Formation of China (Coleoptera: Buprestidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 2745: 53–62. 2011.
H. Schmitz, H. Bleckmann (1998). "The photomechanic infrared receptor for the detection of forest fires in the beetle Melanophila acuminata (Coleoptera: Buprestidae)". J Comp Physiol A. 182: 647–657.

Rose, A.H.; Lindquist, O.H. 1985. Insects of eastern spruces, fir and, hemlock, revised edition. Gov’t Can., Can. For. Serv., Ottawa, For. Tech. Rep. 23. 159 p. (cited in Coates et al. 1994, cited orig ed 1977)

Further reading

Bellamy, C.L. & Nelson, G.H. (2002): Buprestidae. In: Arnett, Ross H. Jr. & Thomas, Michael C.: American Beetles (Volume 2). CRC Press.
Akiyama, K. and S. Ohmomo. 2000. The Buprestid Beetles of the World. Iconographic Series of Insects 4. ISBN 4-943955-04-5. A 341-page work with 120 colour plates.

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