Telephone-pole beetle
Scientific classification
Species: debilus
Binomial name
Micromalthus debilus

The telephone-pole beetles are a family (Micromalthidae) of small beetles, consisting of, at present, one described species Micromalthus debilus. They are native to the eastern United States, and have been spread to various parts of the world by human commerce, probably in timber.

The beetle is elongate, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 mm in length, and a dark brown, with yellow legs and antennae. The head is larger than the thorax, with large eyes protruding from either side.

The larvae are wood-borers that feed on moist and decaying chestnut and oak logs. They have also been reported as causing damage to buildings and poles (thus the name); however, reports of the species are infrequent and it is unknown whether they are rare, or common and unrecognized. The life cycle is unusual in that the cerambycoid stage of the larva can either develop into an adult female, or give birth to caraboid larvae.

Classification of Micromalthus debilus is controversial and unsettled. The species, first reported by LeConte in 1878, was long considered one of the Polyphaga, and placed in Lymexylidae or Teligusidae, or as a family of Canthuroidea. However, characteristics of larvae, wings, and male genitalia show that it must be in the suborder Archostemata.


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