Clerids are 3-24 mm long, elongate, brightly colored, and usually covered with fine setae. They have 11-segmented antennae which are generally serrate, with open or compact clubs. The pronotum is narrower than the base of the elytra. Larvae are 9-13 mm long, soft-bodied, and pale white to purple. Most adults and larvae are predaceous on other insects, and several are predators of beetles infesting structural wood. Females are attracted to freshly cut wood or to heavily infested locations of wood. Eggs are laid in entrances to beetle tunnels, and clerid larvae actively move through the tunnels of wood-infesting beetles and consume the larvae encountered. Pupation usually occurs within the wood.

Clerid species Korynetes caeruleus and Opilo mollis are associated with deathwatch beetles in the UK. In North America,

Chariessa pilosa, Tarsostenus univittatus, and Monophyla terminata feed on several species of borers in hardwoods, and Cymatodera bicolor attacks buprestid and longhorned beetle larvae in hardwoods. Clerids in which tarsal segment 4 is strongly reduced are sometimes placed in the family Corynetidae. Pest species in this group are the red-legged ham beetle, Necrobia rufipes, the red-shouldered ham beetle, N. ruficollis, and a related species, N. violacea.

Red-shouldered ham beetle, Necrobia ruficollis Adults are about 6 mm long, and with the front of the head and the apical three-fourths of the elytra metallic blue. The head ventral surface, the meso- and metasternum, and the legs are brownish red; the antennae and abdomen are dark brown. Adults and larvae are often associated with skin and bones ofdead animals, and on fishmeal.

Red-legged ham beetle, copra beetle, Necrobia rufipes (Fig. 5.4f) Adults are 3.5-7 mm long. They are shiny green or greenish blue and have reddish-brown legs. Full-grown larvae are about 1 cm long; the head is dark brown and the body light brown; the dorsal sclerites are distinct and dark-brown. Eggs are deposited in batches of up to 28 per day, and the time between batches is 2 or 3 days or 6 weeks. Fecundity is 137 eggs in 5 months when reared on ham, and 906 eggs in 9 months when reared on larvae of the cheese skipper (Piophila casei); fecundity is 400-2100 eggs. Eggs are often cemented together when placed in cracks and crevices. Hatching is in 4-6 days at 21-32 °C. Larval development is complete in 17-30 days; minimum conditions for developmentare 20 °Cand 50% RH. Larvae infesting smoked meat migrate to dry locations to pupate. They produce a white frothy oral secretion that hardens to form a chamber for pupation. The pupal period is 6-21 days, and adults remain in the cell for a few days and emerge by chewing a hole in the chamber wall. Adults live as long as 14 months. There are two or three generations per year, and in cold climates overwintering is in the larval stage. Larvae that do not construct a pupal chamber are subject to predation; adult N. rufipes will consume exposed pupae and break into pupal chambers to feed on pupae. Adults emit a strong odor when disturbed.

Adults fly readily in warm conditions, but typically walk about on infested material. This species infests drying meats during long storage or prolonged smoking. These beetles are animal decomposers, and they will eat the dried-flesh parts of most animals, including humans. They also feed on cheese, bacon, fish and salt fish, dried egg yolk, bones and bone meal, drying carrion, dried figs, palm nut kernels, dried coconut (copra), and guano. Adults and larvae are predatory and cannibalistic, and they will feed on other insects found on the food, including maggots of the cheese skipper, eggs of Der-mestes maculatus, and eggs, larvae, and adults of their own species.

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