The Harpalinae comprise those carabids with conjunct mesocoxae (as explained on the page for the Carabidae Conjunctae, and which also have the following features:
- male parameres conchoid and asetose (in rare cases, e.g. Pseudamara arenaria, parameres have some apical setae)
- mandible lacking scrobal seta (various taxa may have numerous short fine setae in the scrobe and in rare cases, e.g. Metius robustus, there may be a single more substantial seta. However, this condition is recognizably different than the single robust fixed seta in the scrobe of non-harpalinae taxa)
- Configuration of abdomen:Tergum VIII partially or totally invaginated with anterolateral apophyses present. Pygidial gland opening near the posterior margin of tergum VIII.
- most species spray hydrocarbons and formic acid in defense secretions (Moore, 1979)
- male chromosome number in most species 2n=36+x
- high-grade wedge-pushing ability
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