Skip to content

Toe-winged beetles (Ptilodactylidae)

Taxonomic group

Family: Ptilodactylidae

Diagnostic features

Ptilodactylids are beetles with long, mealworm-like larvae that live in streams, but the adults are terrestrial. The larvae have a similar body form to the elmids, but ptilodactylids are usually larger and more orange-brown than elmids. The last (9th) abdominal segment has a flat upper surface, which is not the case in the elmids.

Typical habitats

Ptilodactylids can be common in some slow flowing bush covered streams.


Ptilodactylid larvae are likely to be “collector-gatherers” feeding on a range of fine organic matter trapped amongst, or growing on the streambed.

Indicator value

  • Hard bottom: 8
  • Soft bottom: 7.1

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

Ptilodactylids are usually found in streams with moderate to good water quality. They have tolerance values of 8 (hard bottom sites) and 7.1 (soft bottom sites).