The genus Nesotes (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) is represented in the Canary Islands by 19 endemic species, the majority of which are single island endemics. Nesotes conformis and N. fusculus are described on four and three islands, respectively, but each forms a paraphyletic assemblage between Gran Canaria and the other islands. The other described species for Gran Canaria are N. quadratus, N. lindbergi and N. piliger. Thirty-six individuals representing the five species on Gran Canaria have been sequenced for 675 bp of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) cytochrome oxidase II gene. Neighbour-joining analysis of maximum likelihood distances resulted in five distinct mtDNA lineages for N. quadratus, two of which also include mitotypes of N. conformis. Each of the other three species is found on only one mtDNA lineage. We propose from the molecular data that differentiation in a widespread N. quadratus-type ancestor was followed by morphological adaptation to coastal, pine and laurel forest habitats.