Structure of the Tarsi in Some Stenus Species (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae): External Morphology, Ultrastructure, and Tarsal Secretion

J Morphol. 2003 Jan;255(1):24-43. doi: 10.1002/jmor.10044.


SEM studies show that the differentiation among Stenus species with respect to the formation of the tarsi (wide bilobed vs. slender tarsomeres) takes place with a considerable augmentation of tarsal ventral setae in wide bilobed tarsomeres. The structural diversity of ventral tarsal setae among and within species is discussed with respect to 1) their different roles as mechanosensilla and tenent setae, respectively, and 2) the different selection pressures in terms of adhesive requirements along the longitudinal tarsus axis. The tarsi are provided with four groups of tarsal mechanosensilla, comprising hair and bristle sensilla, campaniform sensilla, and scolopidia. The tarsus wall is supported by an epidermis, which forms three different types of glands pouring their secretion via different exit paths onto the outer cuticle. The organization and ultrastructure of each of these glands is described. Only one (unicellular) gland is directly associated with the ventral tenent setae and is thus considered to form the main part of the adhesive secretion. The beetles appear to release the tarsal secretion through mediation of the tenent setae, which contains a lipid and a proteinaceous fraction. I propose that the secretion is discharged to the outside via a system of very fine pore canals in the wall of the setal shaft. Gas chromatography and infrared spectroscopy revealed that the lipid fraction of the secretion is a mixture of unsaturated fatty acid glycerides and aliphatic hydrocarbons whose spectra are similar to those of extractions of the superficial lipid coating of the body surface.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coleoptera / anatomy & histology*
  • Coleoptera / metabolism
  • Coleoptera / ultrastructure
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Sense Organs / anatomy & histology
  • Sense Organs / ultrastructure