The taxonomic position of Aphodius scuticollis Semenov

Frolov, A.V. 2001. The taxonomic position of Aphodius scuticollis Semenov (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae). Zoosystematica Rossica, 10, 87–88. 

The taxonomic position of Aphodius scuticollis Semenov (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae)


A.V. Frolov

Laboratory of Entomology, Institute of Zoology, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Academicheskaya Str. 27, 220072 Minsk, Belarus.

Received 15 April 1999



Based on the complex of morphological characters Aphodius scuticollis Semenov is placed into the subgenus Melinopterus Mulsant. Redescription and notes on distribution of this species are given.


Aphodius scuticollis Semenov was described in the subgenus Chilothorax Motschulsky (=Volinus Mulsant et Rey) based on the elytral pattern with brown maculae against a yellowish brown background. More thorough study has revealed a set of characters that necessitates transfer of the species to the subgenus Melinopterus Mulsant. Because the species was often confused with similar species (especially with A. makowskyi D. Koshantschikov and A. nigrivittis Solsky), a redescription of A. scuticollis is given.

The examined material is deposited in Zoological Institute, Academy of Sciences, Russia, St. Petersburg (ZIN).

A. (Melinopterus) scuticollis Semenov, 1898

= A. nigrivittis Reitter, 1892 (nom. praeocc, non Solskv, 1876).

Type locality. "Dzhungaria [SE Kazakhstan, Dzhungar Alatau mts.]" (Reitter, 1892).

Type deposition: unknown. Seven specimens in ZIN collected by Schmidt and Ignatovich bear the labels "Aphod. scuticollis m. Type a" [or 9] Il.[18]98 A. Semenow del", but they are not name-bearing types.

Material examined. Kazakhstan: 5 spm., Ketmen Mts., Uzun-Bulak, 26.IV. 1985 (Nikolajev); 5 spm., Uzun-Agach, 7.IV.1982 (Nikolajev); 3 spm., 40 km W from Chu Mts., 27.111.1982 (Nikolajev); 8 spm., Dzhambul, V.1909 (Fischer); 8 spm., Almaty (Suvorov); 2 spm., Topolevka [Dzhungarskiy Alatau Mts.], 4.V. 1957, (Kerzhner); 1 spm., Kopal [Dzhungarskiy Alatau mts.]. Kirgizstan: 6 spm., Kutemaldy, 8.YIII. 1892 (Schmidt); I spm., Sary-Tash, 8.VII. 1995 (Koval'); 1 spm., Przhevalsk (Ignatovich); 1 spm., same locality, 11.VI.1902 (Sapozhnikov); 300 spm., same locality 18.111-16.IV. (Pedashenko); 20 spm., same locality, 27.III-2.IV. 1908 (Andreeva); 67 spm., Naryn [River], IV-V.1908 (Datsenko); 1 spm., Talas, III. 1907 (Fischer). China: 1 spm., Xinjiang, ca 100 km NNE Kuqa (Chinese Tien Shan Mts.), 8-1 l.V. 1993 (J. Turna) (Radek Cervenka's collection, Czech Republic, Praha).

Description. Male (Fig. 1). Head dark brown to black, shiny, not tuberculate; clypeus punctate (punctures separated by 2 puncture diameters on disc, becoming denser on sides), very slightly sinuate at middle, rounded at sides. Genae small, angulate, feebly protruding past eyes. Width of eye in ventral view shorter than minimal interval between eye and gula.

Pronotum shiny, dark brown to black on disc, sides yellowish brown; sides and base bordered; disc of pronotum densely punctate (punctures subequal, separated by 1-2 puncture diameters, sometimes sparser). Hind angles angulate. Scutellum triangular, shiny, blackish brown, sparsely punctate.

Elytra yellowish-brown with brown maculae, shiny, without humeral teeth; intervals and striae punctate. Sides and apices of elytra pubescent with long dense setae. Elytral pattern varies from a few longitudinal brown maculae on interstices 3-7 to one large macula occupying the greater part of elytron (like the characteristic elytral pattern in Melinopterus). Maculae lighter in color than disc of pronotum and head; elytra often light brown with unclear pattern.

Ventrum of body dark brown, legs yellowish brown. Disc of metasternum smooth, sparsely and coarsely punctate. Fore tibia with apical spur acute and curved downward; apex of spur reaches the middle of 2nd tarsal segment. Apical spurs of middle tibia slender and acuminate; lower spur longer than half of upper. First segment of hind tarsus as long as upper apical spur of tibia and as long as 3 following segments together. Adjoining apical setae of hind tibia unequal. Apex of hind tibia with more or less expressed tooth on ventral side (Fig. 3).

Aedeagus as in Fig. 2.

Figs 1-3. Aphodius scuticollis Semenov. 1, habitus and elytral pattern; 2, aedeagus in dorsal and lateral view; 3, apical part of hind tibia (male).
Figs 1-3. Aphodius scuticollis Semenov. 1, habitus and elytral pattern; 2, aedeagus in dorsal and lateral view; 3, apical part of hind tibia (male).

Female can be separated from male by denser punctures on head and pronotum, narrower pronotum, smooth elytra, and lacking tooth on ventral side of apex of hind tibia.

Body length 4.0-6.5 mm.

Diagnosis. The species is most similar to A. makowskyi D.Koshantschikov and can be separated from it by the aedeagus shape, bordered base of pronotum, and tooth on ventral side of apex of hind tibia in male.

Distribution. Kirgizstan, SE Kazakhstan, NW China (Chinese Tian-Shan mts.). The species is recorded from China for the first time.

Discussion. Based on the maculate elytra. A. scuticollis was originally described and traditionally regarded as being related to the subgenus Chilothorax Motschulsky (=Volinus Mulsant et Rey). However, such elytral pattern could not be considered as a unique feature of Chilothorax. Species of the subgenera Nimbus Mulsant & Rey and Aphodaulacus W. Koshantschikov also have yellowish elytra with brown maculae. On the other hand, A. scuticollis have some characters in common with most of Melinopterus species: unequal adjoining apical setae of the hind tibiae, yellowish legs, pubescent elytra in males, and the shape of the aedeagus. It is necessary to note that there are some Aphodius species that cannot be unambiguously attributed to one of described subgenera. The shape of the aedeagus and especially of the parameres should be considered in many cases as the most valuable taxonomic character on the subgeneric level in the genus Aphodius.


I would like to thank Dipl. Ing. Radek Cervenka (Praha) for loan of material and Dr. Brett Ratcliffe (University of Nebraska) for linguistic review of the manuscript.


Reitter, E. 1892. Bestimmungstabelle der Lucaniden und coprophagen Lamellicornen des palaearctischen Faunengebietes. Verh. Naturf. Ver. Brünn, 30: 140-262.

Semenov A. 1898. De Aphodio scuticolli m. (nigrivitti Rttr.) ejuisque cognatis. Bull. Soc. imp. Nat., 11: 505-510.