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Distocupes varians (Lea 1902) Neboiss 1984

Thomas Hörnschemeyer
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Containing group: Cupedidae


Distocupes varians is one of six species of Cupedidae occurring in Australia. It can be found on the east coast south of 26° southern latitude and on Tasmania. All known specimens were collected in December or January.

Nearly nothing is known about the biology of D. varians. Larvae of different stages and pupae have been found in different kinds of rotten wood, indicating that the stage of decay is more important than the plant host species. First instar larvae and pupae have been described by Neboiss (1968) and Grebennikov (2004).

The species was originally described as Cupes varians by Lea in 1902. Gestro (1910) listed the species under the genus Omma. Eventually, Neboiss (1984) moved the species to the newly established genus Distocupes. D. varians is the only species in this genus.

Hörnschemeyer et al. (2006) found D. varians to be the sister species to a clade containing the remaining Australian cupedids, Ascioplaga and Adinolepis. This interpretation was largely based on certain structures of the mouthparts, especially of the mandibles that are similar in these groups. However, this relationship was not corroborated by a subsequent analysis (Hörnschemeyer 2009) that accounted for most of the extant archostematan species. This later study was based on 110 adult and larval morphological characters, and D. varians was reconstructed as sister to a comparatively large clade containing the genera Tenomerga, Rhipsideigma and Cupes.


Approximately 12 mm in length and 3 mm in width, the adult beetles are of “standard” cupedid size and proportion. The dark brown to black cuticle of the elongate and flat body is mostly obscured by lighter brown, brown-red or grey scales, which form a pattern of a few, short, dark brown longitudinal stripes on a lighter background on the elytra.

Characteristic features of the adult are the conspicuously protruding anterior corners of the pronotum and the four low but distinct dorsal protuberances of the head that are strongly anteriorly tilted.

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Head and pronotum of Distocupes varians. © 2007

Other Names for Distocupes varians (Lea 1902) Neboiss 1984


Gestro, R. 1910. Cupesidae, Paussidae. Coleopterorum Catalogus. Vol. 4 Pars 5. 3 pp.

Grebennikov, V. V. 2004. Review of larval morphology of the beetle suborder Archostemata (Insecta: Coleoptera), including first-instar chaetotaxy. European Journal of Entomology 101: 273-292.

Hörnschemeyer, T., 2009. The species-level phylogeny of archostematan beetles - where do Micromalthus debilis and Crowsoniella relicta belong? Systematic Entomology 34(3): 533-558.

Hörnschemeyer, T., Goebbels, J., Weidemann, G., Faber, C., Haase, A., 2006. The head of Ascioplaga mimeta (Coleoptera: Archostemata) and the phylogeny of Archostemata. European Journal of Entomology 103: 409-423.

Lea, A. M. 1902. Description of new species of Australian Coleoptera, Part VI. The Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 26: 485-487 & 513.

Neboiss, A. 1968. Larva and pupa of Cupes varians Lea, and some observations on its biology (Coleoptera: Cupedidae). Memoirs of the National Museum of Victoria 28: 17-19.

Neboiss, A. 1984. Reclassification of Cupes Fabricius (s.lat.), with descriptions of new genera and species (Cupedidae: Coleoptera). Systematic Entomology 9: 443-477.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Distocupes varians
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
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About This Page

University Göttingen, Institute for Zoology & Anthropology, Dept. Morphology & Systematics

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Thomas Hörnschemeyer at

Page: Tree of Life Distocupes varians (Lea 1902) Neboiss 1984. Authored by Thomas Hörnschemeyer. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Hörnschemeyer, Thomas. 2010. Distocupes varians (Lea 1902) Neboiss 1984. Version 07 December 2010 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Distocupes_varians/9020/2010.12.07 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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