New to Russia and little known species of the genus Aphodius

Akhmetova, L.A., Frolov, A.V. 2009. New to Russia and little known species of the genus Aphodius Illiger (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae). Zoosystematica Rossica, 18(2): 278–284.

New to Russia and little known species of the genus Aphodius Illiger (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae)

L.A. Akhmetova & A.V. Frolov

Laboratory of Insect Systematics, Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaya nab., 1, St.-Petersburg, 199034 Russia. Email:


Aphodius (AgoliinusguttatusA. (Chilothoraxclathratus, and A. (Aphodaulacuskizeritskyi are recorded from Russia for the first time. Aphodius (Agoliinusamurensis previously known only from the type locality is found in the Lazo Nature Reserve (Russian Far East). All species are diagnosed and illustrated. Comments on diagnostic characters, distribution and bionomics are given.

Key words: Aphodius, new records, Russia


Aphodius Illiger is one of the largest beetle genera in Russian fauna and the main group to control mammal dung and dung breeding flies. Yet our knowledge of this genus is still poor in many aspects. Even a complete list of species occurring in Russia is not available. Almost every expedition to southern Volga Region and Primorsk Terr., aimed at collecting scarab beetles, yields new to fauna species or other important findings. In the present contribution, three species (A. guttatus Eschscholtz, A. clathratus Reitter, and A. kizeritskyi Frolov) are recorded from Russia for the first time. New record of A. amurensis Iablokoff-Khnzorian from Lazo Nature Reserve is also given. Some of these species were poorly or not illustrated and data about their biology were not available.

Examined material is deposited at the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, St.-Petersburg (ZIN), Institute of Zoology, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, Yerevan (IZE), Zoological Museum of Moscow State University (ZMUM) and in the collection of Alexander Ivanov, Ekaterinburg (AIC). The distribution map was made with ArcGIS 9.1 software. Locality coordinates for the map were taken from specimen labels, available atlases and the GNS database ( Habitus photos were made with a Leica DFC290 digital camera and a Leica MZ9.5 stereoscopic microscope. Partially focused serial images were combined in Helicon Focus software (Helicon Soft Ltd.) to produce completely focused photographs.

Aphodius (Agoliinus) amurensis Iablokoff-Khnzorian, 1972

(Figs 1, 10)

Type material examined. Holotype. IZE; male; Russia, Primorsk Terr., Shkotovo Distr., Peyshula Village, 15.8.71. Paratypes.  IZE; 2 females with the same data as the holotype.

Additional material examined. ZIN; 5 males and 5 females; Russia, Primorsk Terr., Lazo Distr., Lazo Natural Reserve; 6.VIII.2008; Frolov and Akhmetova leg.

A. amurensis was described from small series collected in Shkotovo Dist. (southern Primorsk Terr.) (Iablokov-Khnzorian, 1972) and no more specimens were known until recently we found the species in Lazo Nature Reserve. The beetles were collected in mixed forest from fresh dung of Japanese deer (Cervus nippon). It is probable that A. amurensis is widely distributed in Primorsk Terr. but its range is limited to the regions with stable deer populations.

In the same locality, in older deer dung, we found numerous second and third instar Aphodius larvae. These larvae had characteristic head pattern similar to that of European A. nemoralis Erichson, 1848 (Frolov, unpublished data), also a member of the subgenus Agoliinus. We believe the larvae collected in Lazo Natural Reserve belong to A. amurensis but we failed to rear adults from them in the laboratory.

A. amurensis is similar to A. piceus Gyllenhal, 1808, but can be separated from it by the shape of the parameres and their feebly sclerotized processes (Figs 9, 10), convex elytral intervals, especially apically, more convex and shorter body, and angulate clypeus (Figs 1, 2).

Figs 1–4. Aphodius, general view (1, 2, 4, male; 3, female). 1, A. amurensis (holotype); 2, A. piceus; 3, A. guttatus (lectotype); 4, A. guttatus.

Figs 1–4. Aphodius, general view (1, 2, 4, male; 3, female). 1, A. amurensis (holotype); 2, A. piceus; 3, A. guttatus (lectotype); 4, A. guttatus.

Aphodius (Agoliinus) guttatus Eschscholtz, 1823

(Figs 3, 4, 8)

Type material examined. Lectotype. ZMUM; female; USA, Unalaska.

Additional material examined. ZIN; 1 male and 2 females; Russia, Kamchatka, Karaginskij Island, Yagodnoe Village; 27.VII.2008; O. A. Khruleva leg.

A. guttatus was described from Aleutian Islands and is widely distributed in North America (Gordon & Skelley, 2007). It was not recorded from Russian mainland so far. We didn't have the opportunity to examine comparative material from America, except for the lectotype, but the specimens from Kamchatka agree well with the latter and with the description of A. guttatus given by Gordon and Skelley (2007).

The specimens from Kamchatka differ from the lectotype in body coloration. Head and pronotum of the lectotype are dark-brown with paler sides, legs are brown, elytra are brown with small yellowish maculae on elytral base, humeral umbones, and on 3-5 elytral intervals in distal half (Fig. 3). The specimens from Kamchatka are darker with dark-brown to almost black upper side of the body and dark-brown legs, and with elytra having only one small yellowish maculae in apical part of each elytron (Fig. 4). Such a coloration variability is withing the range of inter-specific variability commonly found in many Aphodius species. Elytral pattern vary considerably in North American specimens and yellowish maculae are reduced in some individuals (Gordon & Skelley, 2007). Therefore we think the specimens from Kamchatka and Aleutian Islands are conspecific.

A. guttatus can be separated from other Agoliinus species distributed in Russia by elytral pattern with more or less developed yellowish maculae. From similar A. piceus,it differs also in the shape of the parameres and their membranous processes (Figs 8, 9), and almost indistinct frontal tubercle (Figs 3, 4).

Aphodius (Chilothorax) clathratus Reitter, 1892

(Fig. 5, 7)

Material examined.

Russia. ZIN, AIC; 3 specimens; Dosang railway station; 29.X.2005; V. Kozlov leg. ZIN; 6 specimens; Astrakhan' Prov.: environs of Dosang Vill., fixed sands, larvae from old horse dung; 9.IV.2008; A. V. Frolov and L. A. Akhmetova leg. ZIN, AIC; 7 km NNE of Dosang Vill.; 6 specimens; 31.X.2005; 6 specimens; 1.XI.2005; V. Kozlov leg. Turkey. ZIN; 1 specimen; Kars Prov., Sarikamis; 7.IV.1912. Armenia. ZIN; Yerevan; 4 specimens; 17.III.1935; M. E. Ter-Minasyan and A. A. Richter leg.; 1 specimen; 4.V.1911; 13 specimens; XI.1911. Iran. ZIN; 2 specimens; Kazvin; 8.I.1943; E. Pavlovskiy leg. ZIN; 1 specimen; Khorasan; 11.XI.1901; N. A. Zarudny leg. Turkmenistan. ZIN; 1 specimen; Western Kopet-Dagh, Aydere; 10.IV.1980; A. Fet leg. ZIN; 9 specimens; Murgab, 19.II.1912. Uzbekistan. ZIN; 4 specimens; Samarkand; 1892; Glasunov leg. ZIN; 1 specimen; Tschupan-Ata; 1892; Glasunov leg. ZIN; 1 specimen; environs of Samarkand; 6-24.II.1896; L. Barshchevskiy leg. ZIN; 1 specimen (10.XII.1926) and 2 specimens (19.III.1927); Iolotan'; V. Kizeritskiy leg. ZIN; 1 specimen; Golodnaya Step railway station; 13.IV.1903; N. Ivanov leg. ZIN; 1 specimen; Golodnaya Step railway station; 9.IV.1903; G. G. Jacobson leg. ZIN; 1 specimen; Nurata; 6-15.II.1987; Baskakova leg. ZIN; 3 specimens; Kainar-Bulak; Glasunov leg. ZIN; 4 specimens; environs of Navoiy; 9.IX.1986; S. A. Kurbatov leg. Tadzhikistan. ZIN; 2 specimen; Penjakent; 10-28.XI.1943; Kirichenko leg. ZIN; 1 specimen; Karatag; E. Willberg leg.

Figs 5–6. Aphodius, general view (male). 5, A. clathratus; 6, A. melanostictus.

Figs 5–6. Aphodius, general view (male). 5, A. clathratus; 6, A. melanostictus.

A. clathratus was described from Ordubad (Azerbaijan). Depository of its type specimen is  unknown. The species was also recorded from Transcaucasia and Middle Asia (Frolov, 2002b) but reliable finding from Russia were not known so far. Map of localities for this species, based mostly on the ZIN material, suggests that A. clathratus is rather widely distributed but the locality in Dosang environs is the northernmost and far away from others (Fig. 7). The range of this species is still obscure since it is difficult to separate it from closely related and very similar A. melanostictus Schmidt, 1840. Some records of  A. clathratus in the literature apparently belong to A. melanostictus and vice verse.


Males of A. clathratus can be separated from A. melanostictus by having distinctly and rather densely pubescent apices of elytra (Fig. 5), distinct setae on the disc of metathorax, relatively narrower body, and more developed dark maculae on elytra. A. melanostictus has minutely to indistinctly pubescent apices of elytra (Fig. 6), glabrous disc of metathorax in both sexes, relatively wider body, and less developed dark maculae on elytra. Elytral pattern however is not a reliable diagnostic character due to its variability in both species. Females of A. clathratus and A. melanostictus can sometimes be difficult to distinguish.

Three adults of A. clathratus were reared from the larvae collected by us in vicinity of Dosang and brought to the laboratory in St. Petersburg. The larvae are similar to those of A. melanostictus described by Maltsev (Maltsev, 1966) but this description is very short and incomplete.

Aphodius (Aphodaulacus) kizeritskyi Frolov, 2002

Type material examined. Holotype. ZIN; male; Turkmenistan, Duzu-Olum, Sumbar River, ca. 10 km upstream of Sharloun; 21.X.1902. Paratypes. ZIN; female; Turkmenistan, Imam Baba; 3.XI.1899. ZIN; female; Turkmenistan, Iolotan'; 12.XI.1912; V. Kizeritsky leg.

Additional material examined. Russia. ZIN, AIC; 7 km NNE of Dosang Vill.; 22 specimens; 31.X.2005; 35 specimens; 1.XI.2005; V. Kozlov leg.

A. kizeritskyi was so far known from a few type specimens collected in Turkmenistan. It is possible that this species is more widely distributed in Caspian region and it most probably occurs in Atyrau and Mangystau provinces of Kazakhstan.

A. kizeritskyi differs from two other Aphodaulacus species distributed in the adjacent regions, A. turkestanicus Heyden, 1881, and A. saraevi Nikolajev, 2004, in having pubescent sides of pronotum, and from the former also in more slender and more curved apices of parameres (Frolov, 2002a, Figs 1, 6) . But in the examined specimens from Russia, pubescence of pronotum vary considerably being almost indistinct in some individuals. It is possible that description of A. saraevi is based on exemplars of A. kizeritskyi with abraded setae on sides of pronotum, but additional material from Kazakhstan is needed to reliably separate the two species or confirm synonymy of the names.

Figs 7–10. Aphodius, distribution map (7) and aedeagus in lateral view (8–10). 7, A. clathratus; 8, A. guttatus; 9, A. piceus; 10, A. amurensis.

Figs 7–10. Aphodius, distribution map (7) and aedeagus in lateral view (8–10). 7, A. clathratus; 8, A. guttatus; 9, A. piceus; 10, A. amurensis.


The authors would like to thank A.V. Ivanov (Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology of Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekatirenburg) and O. A. Khruleva (A.N. Severtsov Institute for Evolution, Morphology, and Ecology of Animals, Moscow) for donation of the material to the ZIN collection, and A. A. Gusakov (Zoological Museum of Moscow University, Moscow) and M. Yu. Kalashian (Institute of Zoology of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, Yerevan) for the loan of the type material deposited in their institutions. This research was supported by the Science and Higher School Committee of Government of Sankt-Petersburg and by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant number 07-04-00482-а).


Frolov, A. V. 2002a. New and little known species of Aphodius subgenus Aphodaulacus (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae) from Middle Asia and China. Zoosystematica Rossica, 11(1):163–165.

Frolov, A. V. 2002b. A Review of Aphodiines of the Subgenus Chilothorax Motschulsky, Genus Aphodius Illiger (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae), from Russia and Neighboring Countries. Entomological Review, 82(1): 1–18.

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Maltsev, I.V. 1996. Descriptions of a few unknown larvae of scarab beetles (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae) from Crimea. Entomologicheskoe obozrenie, 45(1): 144–149. (In Russian.)