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Adults are large, somewhat flattened, parallel-sided, shiny black beetles from 30 to 40 mm long. The thorax and abdomen are separated with a narrowed "waist." The elytra are deeply grooved and a short, forward curved hook occurs on the top of the head. The three rigid, terminal antennal segments are widened into a loose club that cannot be rolled together.
Larvae and adults live together in colonies in damp, decayed logs and stumps. The cream or dull-white larvae are fed wood that has been reduced to a pulp and treated with digestive secretions by their parents (Gray 1946). Both adults and larvae have stridulatory organs. When disturbed, or for communication, adults rub together roughened areas located on the underside of the wings and on top of the abdomen; on the larvae, these roughened areas are on the third pair of legs that are very greatly reduced.