Length 2-10 mm. Color black, tan, brown, dark brown, or combinations thereof; often with areas of fine white pubescence; pronotum infrequently with red or orange markings.
Afrotropical, Australian, Indomalayan, Nearctic, Neotropical, Palearctic, and Oceanic regions. Members of this large cosmopolitan subfamily are indigenous worldwide except on the ancient, isolated islands of New Zealand (one species introduced from Australia) and Madagascar. In the Old World the subfamily is especially diverse in the Afrotropical and Indomalayan regions. In the New World the subfamily is most frequent in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands. Tropical South America has relatively few species, and native species are unknown from Canada (one species introduced from the Old World), much of the United States, and southern South America.
Pronotum produced posteriorly (exceptions: posterior process absent in Abelus and Hemicentrus). Scutellum not concealed by posterior process (exceptions: concealed by process in Centrodontini, Oxyrhachini, most Nessorhinini, Bulbauchenia, Mesocentrina, Monobelus, Neosextius, and polymorphic in Centrotypus and Sextius). Forewing with clavus truncate (exception: clavus acuminate in Centrodontini); apical limbus broad in most genera; posterior process rarely overlapping forewing. Abdomen with inornate pits, each with associated lateral seta.
Life History and Behavior
Some genera exhibit maternal care in the form of egg guarding. Some genera are tended by ants. Aggressive behavior is also reported among certain groups.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
The male 2n= 10, 13, 17, 19, 20, 21 or 23.