Home » Identifying beetles » Curculionidae: Scolytinae (bark beetles) and Platypodidae (pinhole-borers)

Curculionidae: Scolytinae (bark beetles) and Platypodidae (pinhole-borers)

Xyleborus monographus

Bark-beetles (Scolytinae) and Platypodidae are covered by this RES Handbook:

Duffy, E.A.J. (1953). Coleoptera (Scolytidae and Platypodidae). Handbooks for the identification of British insects, vol. 5, part 15. London: Royal Entomological Society. Out of print but PDF available online here courtesy of the RES.

It’s an admirable piece of work but it’s not an easy key to use and in particular there’s a rather baffling couplet (23) in the key to genera followed by a completely impenetrable one (25) which is where it all breaks down for me. This group could really do with a completely new key, not least to incorporate all the additional species that have been found in the nearly 50 years since Duffy’s key. Any takers? To be fair, they might be better suited to a photographic identification guide rather than a dichotomous key.

Meanwhile, we can muddle along with help from the following:

  • Balachowsky, A. (1949). Coléoptères Scolytides. Faune de France, no. 50. Paris: Librairie de la Faculte Des Sciences. Free download from the Faune de France website.
  • Grüne, S. (1979). Handbuch zur Bestimmung der europaischen Borkenkafer – Brief Illustrated Key to European Bark Beetles. With 265 figures. Hannover: Schaper. [Recommended by Tony Drane. Useful, especially as it is dual text – German and English].
  • Pfeffer, A. (1995). Zentral- und westpaläarktische Borken- und Kernkäfer (Coleoptera: Scolytidae, Platypodidae). With 45 plates of figures. Basel: Pro Entomologia. [in German].
  • There is a key to European species of Ips in The Coleopterist (Faccoli, 2004) which includes Ips cembrae, a species not in Duffy (1953).

The following species have been added to the British list and are not included in Duffy’s (1953) Handbook. I’m not sure this list is complete, and in any case Peter Hammond and I have collected two species of scolytine that have yet to be published as new to Britain.

  • Scolytus laevis (Atkins et al., 1981)
  • Scolytus pygmaeus (on elm) (Heal, 2003)
  • Crypturgus subcribrosus (Winter, 1990)
  • Xyleborus monographus (on oak) (Telfer, 2007)
  • Phloeosinus aubei (Winter, 1998)
  • Dendroctonus micans (Cooter, 1983))
  • Polygraphus grandiclava (Chuter, 2010)


Atkins, P.M., O’Callaghan, D.P. and Kirby, S.G. (1981). Scolytus laevis (Chapuis) (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) new to Britain. Entomologist’s Gazette, 32, 280.

Chuter, K. (2010). Polygraphus grandiclava (Thomson) (Curculionidae) new to Britain and breeding. The Coleopterist, 18, 63 – 64.

Cooter, J. (1983). Dendroctonus micans Kug. (Col., Scolytidae) in Britain. Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, 119, 231.

Faccoli, M. (2004). A morphological illustrated key to European species of the genus Ips DeGeer (Coleoptera: Scolytidae). The Coleopterist, 13, 103 – 119.

Heal, N.F. (2003). Scolytus pygmaeus (Fabricius, 1787) (Scolytidae) – a new arrival in Britain. The Coleopterist, 12, 57 – 60.

Telfer, M.G. (2007). Xyleborus monographus (Fabricius) (Curculionidae: Scolytinae) new to Britain. The Coleopterist, 16, 41 – 45.

Winter, T. (1990). Crypturgus subcribrosus Eggers (Col., Scolytidae) a bark beetle new to Britain. Entomologist’s monthly magazine, 126, 209 – 211.

Winter, T. (1998). Phloeosinus aubei (Perris) (Scolytidae) in Surrey, the first record of this bark beetle breeding in Britain. The Coleopterist, 7, 1 – 2.



  1. Bruce Philp says:

    Currently struggling with Duffy and Joy to identify a scolytid I agree that something better is needed. I don’t suppose you have had any takers since you put up the post?

  2. markgtelfer says:

    Bruce, well yes! Someone is working on montaging British scolytines so we can look forward to a good set of images at some point, which will really help.

  3. Elaine Henderson says:

    Hi, I am an artist just starting a project on local beetles ( Orkney), and am finding it difficult to wade through the taxonomy, or how to identify different types. I have a box of 215 beetles but they are not all named. For instance it took several hours of googling before I found out that one I liked was a weevil ! Calling its ” nose” a proboscis, not a rostrum, didn’t help. I need a proper idiots guide to identification- is there such a thing?

  4. markgtelfer says:

    Elaine, the best thing would be the Field Guide in Colour to Beetles by KW Harde and PM Hammond. Out of print sadly but 2nd hand copies here:
    Worth shopping around for cheaper prices. Would also be worth you getting to know Ross Andrew at Costa.

Leave a comment