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Elateridae, Eucnemidae and Throscidae

Lacon querceus © Cathy Rose

I will use ‘click beetles’ to refer to all three families though I’m not sure that the eucnemids and throscids are actually able to jump into the air with an audible click in the way that elaterids can. Anyway, click beetles are a very appealing group in that they are easily recognised as click beetles, and many are of striking appearance. I have had several requests for help with their identification.

Joy’s (1932) ‘Practical Handbook’ still provides the best and most recent keys to the British and Irish species. However, there has been substantial change in nomenclature over the ensuing 78 years and several species have been added to the British list since Joy. All of which has made Joy’s keys increasingly difficult to use. I have prepared an updated version of Joy’s keys which should make identification of click beetles less confusing.

There are two options.
1. You can use the online key here which includes hyperlinks to photographs on the web.
2. If you prefer to download and print a hard copy, you’ll want this Joy’s keys to Elateridae, Eucnemidae and Throscidae 2013-12-07.

If you are not familiar with Joy’s keys and are wondering what exactly he means by ‘rather closely’, ‘quadrate’, piceous’, ‘shagreened’ and other bafflements, you’ll need to refer to Joy’s abbreviations and conventions, adapted from his introductory chapter.

I thank John Muggleton of the British Entomological and Natural History Society for clarifying the copyright status of Joy’s ‘Practical Handbook’.

Some useful websites with good photographs of click beetles:

Click Beetles of the Palearctic Region
Christoph Benisch’s beetles of Germany (www.kerbtier.de)

Some have found the Elateridae of the Czech and Slovak Republics by Stanislav Laibner useful, with keys in English and Czech and colour photos. Apparently it covers all but one of the British species.

Howard Mendel is preparing a book on British and Irish click beetles to be published as a Ray Society volume which will be thorough and definitive when it appears, and I look forward to it.


  1. Another superb resource for photographs of click and other beetles is Christoph Benisch’s site: http://www.kerbtier.de/enindex.html

    I’d agree that the Laibner book is very helpful as well.

  2. Steve Bolchover says:

    There is a useful book by Guiseppe Platia “Elateridae” in the Fauna D’Italica series. Keys in English

  3. Jyrki Muona says:

    They do all click well, throscids are the hardest to get to do it, however, as they prefer to feign dead.
    There is a really nice Czech page as well.

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