Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- A family of sternoxine pentamerous beetles, corresponding to the Linnean genus Elater. The ventral segments are typically free, the first not being elongated; the tarsi are 5-jointed; the prothorax is loosely jointed to the mesothorax; the prosternum is prolonged behind; the globose front coxæ are within the prosternum; the hind coxæ are contiguous, laminate, and sulcate; the free ventral segments are 5 or rarely 6 in number; the labrum is free and visible; and the antennæ are usually serrate, sometimes filiform, pectinate, or flabellate. The species are very numerous, and are known as click-beetles, snapping-beetles, springbeetles, and skipjacks. Their legs are short, and when they are placed on their backs on a flat surface they right themselves with an audible snapping of their bodies. This is effected by means of the spine of the prosternum, which acts as a spring on the mesosternum, and the force being transmitted to the base of the elytra, and so to the supporting surface, the insects are jerked into the air and manage to fall on their feet. The force is remarkable, as one may experience by trying to hold one of the larger species. (See cut under
click-beetle.) The fireflies of tropical regions are elaters, as of the genus Pyrophorus. (See cut under antenna.) The larvæ of many species are known as wireworms, and are very injurious to crops. See cut under wireworm.
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