This family comprises about 1100 species worldwide; 32 of them occur in Canada. Elmids are small beetles, usually less than 3 mm long
and most are aquatic in both adult and larval stages. The adults breathe by mean of a hydrofuge ventral plastron, the larvae with retractile cloacal
gills. Adults and larvae inhabit the substratum of creeks and rivers, feeding on diatoms, encrusting algae detritus or submerged decaying wood
(LeSage & Harper 1976b); they are good water quality indicators (Hilsenhoff 1977). Pupation occurs near water under rocks or pieces of wood
or in moist soil. Adults fly and are often attracted to light usually soon after emergence. Their hydrofuge plastron used for breathing enables
them to stay under water for the rest of their life, which, incidentally, may last several years. Old specimens are easily recognized by their
encrusted body, often carrying peritrich ciliates.
The family Elmidae is usually split into two subfamilies (Brown 1972). The North American fauna is relatively well-known with the
generic treatment of Brown (1972), the recent revisions of the genera Dubiraphia and Optioservus, and the recent catalog by Brown (1983c).
Stenelmis, the largest genus, is now under revision. A systematic survey of the eastern Canadian fauna undertaken by LeSage and Harper (1975)
focused on the province of Quebec. The fauna of the Prairie provinces, Western Canada and the arctic is still poorly known. The present list
adds many new province records based on specimens accumulated by the author since Brown's work and several unpublished records generously
provided by H.G. Nelson of the Field Museum of Natural History.
YK (1); NT (1); BC (14); AB (11); SK (4); MB (7); ON (18); PQ (20); NB (11); NS (12); PE (6); LB (2); NF (5)
Key to genera: Brown (1981)
Genus LARA LeConte
Key to North American species: Brown (1972)
L. avara amplipennis Darlington