The processes of island colonization and speciation are investigated through mtDNA studies on Canary Island beetles. The genus Nesotes (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) is represented by 19 endemic species on the Canary Islands, the majority of which are single island endemics. Nesotes conformis is the most widespread, occurring on Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro. Nesotes conformis forms a paraphyletic assemblage, with a split between Gran Canaria and the other three islands. Nesotes conformis of the western Canary Islands cluster with Nesotes altivagans and Nesotes elliptipennis from Tenerife. Fifty-two individuals from this western islands species complex have been sequenced for 675 base pairs of the mtDNA cytochrome oxidase II gene, representing Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro. A neighbour joining analysis of maximum likelihood distances resulted in three distinct mtDNA lineages for N. conformis, two of which also include mitotypes of N. altivagans and N. elliptipennis. Through application of parametric bootstrap tests, we are able to reject hypotheses of monophyly for both N. conformis and N. altivagans. Nesotes altivagans and N. elliptipennis are poorly separated morphologically and mtDNA sequence data adds support to this being one species with a highly variable morphology. We propose that N. altivagans/N. elliptipennis is recently derived from two ancestral mtDNA lineages within N. conformis from the Teno region of Tenerife. We further propose colonization of the younger islands of La Palma and El Hierro by N. conformis from a mitochondrial lineage within the Teno massif (colonization; diversification; mitochondrial DNA; Canary Islands; Coleoptera).