ISSN 1911-2173


Ontholestes cingulatus (Gravenhorst 1802)

Figure 3.2.1 Ontholestes cingulatus (Gravenhorst), pronotum. 6.1.1 O. cingulatus, habitus. 11.6.1 O. cingulatus, from compost.


Ontholestes cingulatus can be distinguished from other Staphylinina by its distinctive golden abdominal apex (Fig. 6.1.1). Older, contracted, or dirty specimens may be identified to Ontholestes by the sharp anterior angles of the pronotum (Fig. 3.2.1) and distinguished from O. murinus (L.) by the bicoloured legs and antennae (Fig. 11.6.1).


This species is transcontinental in Canada and occurs in the central and eastern United States. Although this species is widespread, it had not been officially recorded from Michigan, Ohio, Vermont, or Prince Edward Island. Its range in ECAS is given by Map 9. The occurrence of Ontholestes cingulatus in these states and province is confirmed based on numerous historical and recent collections.

CANADA: PE: Queens Co., Harrington, barley field, pitfall trap, 16-IX-2004, C. Noronha, 3 (ACPE); St. Patricks, compost, 20-VIII-2002, C.G. Majka, 1 (CGMC); St. Patricks, old field, compost, 25-VI-2003, C.G. Majka, 1 (CGMC).

UNITED STATES: MI: 207 specimensOH: 95 specimensVT: Addison Co., Bristol and Middlebury townline, route 116, pitfall traps, 4 to12-XI-1976, R. Davidson, 6 (CMNH). Bennington Co., Dorset, Polyporus sulfureus, 14-VII-1970, J.F. Lawrence, 3 (MCZ); Manchester, beech-maple forest, ex. ‘several clusters of Conopholis americana’, 17-VIII-1969, C.T. Parsons, 1, 12-VIII-1971, 3 (MCZ). Lamoille Co., Stowe, 1 (AMNH). Orleans Co., East Charleston, 21-VI-1967, M.A. Deyrup, 1, old grass heap, 27-VI-1967, 1 (AMNH). Windsor Co., Woodstock, 20-VIII, 2 (MCZ).

Eastern Canada: ON, QC, NB, NL, NS, PE (All ECAS provinces)

Adjacent U.S.: MI, IN, OH, PA, NY, VT, NH, ME (All ECAS states)

Ontholestes cingulatus has been collected in ECAS from February to September, with a peak in abundance in May-June.



This species is common and most often collected on dung and smaller carrion but also regularly occurs in decaying fungi and in compost piles. This species is a strong flier and is captured frequently in flight-intercept and malaise traps, and infrequently at UV lights.

Males guard recently mated females as they oviposit, chasing and ‘grappling’ with any males that approach her (Alcock 1991). Mating occurs with males on top of females and both sexes facing the same direction (Alcock 1991); quite different from smaller staphylinids that typically mate end-to-end. Both larvae and adults can be reared on a diet of muscoid flies (Schmidt 1999). Ontholestes cingulatus was considered a moderate indicator of undisturbed forest by Klimaszewski et al. (2008) and was observed to prefer shaded carrion by Hobischack et al. (2006); however, collection data suggest it also occurs in open forests and backyards.