Genus Coptorhina (Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeinae)

Coptorhina klugii

Coptorhina klugii

Genus Coptorhina Hope, 1835


Type species C. africana Hope, 1835.

Among the other genera of Sarophorus group, species of Coptorhina are readily recognized by a combination of two characters: (1) metepisternon somewhat rectangular, widest in its hind part, with secondary suture and very convex epipleural margin; (2) bidentate clypeus. Coptorhina shares the first character with the genus Delopleurus Erichson and it is probably a synapomorphy of the two genera. Delopleurus, however, can be easily separated by having a quadridentate clypeus. Males with weakly developed clypeal processes and females of some larger species of Frankenbergerius Balthasar are similar to species of Coptorhina. They can, however, be easily separated from Coptorhina by having a triangular metepisternon which is widest in its anterior part, with slightly convex epipleural margin, and, especially in larger males, by curious clypeal processes.

Species composition. Six species are known.

Distribution. The genus is widely distributed in African savannas south of the Sahara; majority of localities and species are known from southern Africa.

Coptorhina auspicata feeding on a mushroom, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Coptorhina auspicata feeding on a mushroom,
Limpopo Province, South Africa

Biology. Coptorhina are obligatory mushrooms eaters as both adults and larvae showing preference to the large fruit bodied mushrooms of the genus Termitomyces. Beetle activity is correlated with the availability of the fruit bodies of mushrooms and is mostly limited to periods after rain. In the laboratory at the University of Pretoria, specimens of C. auspicata were kept in containers with sandy soil and were fed on commercial mushrooms (Agaricus ?bisporus). The beetles made brood balls about 2 cm in diameter. Typical coprine-like 3rd -instar larvae were found in the brood balls after three weeks. The larvae were observed to eat the macerated mushroom substance along with sand particles. The smaller size of brood balls (compared to those of dung feeders like Copris or Catharsius with similar sized larvae) is probably due to the higher nutritive value of mushrooms compared to dung. As the larvae progressively consume the brood ball contents and repeatedly re-ingest their own faeces it is likely that bacteria and fungi inhabiting the brood ball substance become the main nutritional component of the larval food.


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Ferreira M. 1954. Monografia dos Escarabaeídeos da África do Sul, V parte, No 1, Géneros Coptorhina Hope and Pseudocoptorhina nov. Boletim da Sociedade de Estudos de Moçambique 87: 1–17.

Frolov AV, Akhmetova LA & Scholtz CH. 2008. Revision of the obligate mushroom-feeding African “dung beetle” genus Coptorhina Hope (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). Journal of Natural History, 42, 1477-1508.

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Hope FW. 1835. Characters and descriptions of several new genera and species of Coleopterous Insects. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 1: 91–112.

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