An occasional series by AntLab Parataxonomist: Brittany Benson
Cleridae – Checkered Beetles
With more than 3,500 species in 330 genera worldwide, about 300 species in 36 genera occur in North America, being more diverse in the south. They have a vast size range of 2-24mm, but overall have a distinct, elongated body type (even th more robust ones are still distinctly clerid-shaped). They are also covered with hairs, and can be very neatly patterned and colored (thus the name of checkered beetles).
Most of the members of this family are predacious on other insects, both as larvae and adults. Typically found with woody things (check out the surface and under bark for an easy sighting). Just about any part of the woody plant they can get to, they’ll be there. Have a pile of dead twigs? There may be a clerid there. Some are fierce predators of bark beetles, and so may be important in controlling those populations. Adults of some (mostly in the Clerinae) prefer to live on flowers and munch on the pollen. Even if the larvae and adults are both typically predacious, they may not feed on the same things. One species of Aulicus, for example, eats the eggs of lubber grasshoppers as larvae, and the adults take to eating noctuid caterpillars. Some species are even scavengers.