Learn to distinguish among the different types of beetles, only the largest group of insects found all over the world, and find out which ones can be a real nuisance to homeowners.
While beetles are one of the most common insects in the world, they are often mistaken for other insects such as bugs. So, at this point, the question that arises is how can you identify beetles without getting confused at all?
With the scientific name, Coleoptera, beetles come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors. But a typical beetle comes with two-segmented antennae which work as a smelling organ and has significant chewing parts. Like many other insects, beetles also have two pair of wings. That being said, their wings are the most distinctive feature as their forewings (elytra) are shell-like hard and thick.
These pairs of wings protect the pest from its enemies and potentially dangerous scenarios. The frontal wings of beetles are folded underneath them, which quite explains why these beetles are also referred to as “Coleoptera” since this Latin word essentially means “folded wings.”
Beetles fold their front wings to protect their back wings. These wings are strong and durable. They guard the insect against environmental damage and dehydration. It is also important to note that bugs also feature wings just as beetles, but their wings aren’t as hard and thick as those of beetles.
As hinted above, beetles have chewing mouthparts too. The two most common mouthparts found in pests are either chewing organs or piercing-sucking type. To identify chewing parts, look for two pairs of shears-like jaws with a flapping labium on the front and one underneath.
These physical characteristics will prove that the insect you are observing is a beetle. In case there is no jaw, but a keel or ridge, then you’re probably looking at an insect that is not a beetle.
Beetles can be a sheer nuisance for most homeowners because of their ability to damage items like clothes, furniture, crops, stored food, décor, etc. The first step in getting rid of them is by understanding what they look like, their habits, and other important characteristics.
Therefore, we have prepared this blog to help you discover different types of beetles and everything you should know about them to ensure that you can keep them at bay.
1. Lady Beetles
Also referred to as ladybugs or ladybird beetles, lady beetles are some of the most widely found beetles in the world. These species usually exhibit a red or orange body with black spots. Some of these beetles also boast a pink body with black markings.
These beetles are small, round to oval in shape, and usually, have yellow forewings. Their pronotum, an area behind their back, may also exhibit a unique pattern.
Most of the lady beetles, both larvae and adults, are found in North America and prefer to feed on small insects, mites, and eggs of other insects. Research shows that female lady beetles can lay 20 to more than 1000 eggs over just a period of three months. These eggs are deposited near aphids, in stems, and leaves to protect them from their enemies.
2. Rove Beetles
Belonging to the Staphylinidae family, rove beetles are an extremely diverse group of beetles with over 25000 species. These pests can be found everywhere from decaying plants to insect nests to dung to fungi. However, rove beetles love moist areas so you can expect them to be near ponds, lakes, streams, damp leaves, stems as well.
These beetles come out from their hiding late at night (when they are most active) to feast on tiny arthropods, pollen, fungal spores, and insects like ants. While these creatures are harmless in the sense that they don’t bite, if mishandled, they can give a nasty bite!
Rove beetles have visible abdominal segments with a small wing structure. Although their frontal wings are small, these species can still fly; that’s because of their purposeful hindwings underneath. Adult rove beetles are supposed to be at least 25 mm in length but the majority of them are only 7mm long.
3. Ground Beetles
These beetles are known to be the largest group of beetles occurring in North America, with over 2000 species there alone. Given that they come in innumerable varieties, the majority of these beetles appears and behaves in a similar manner.
Ground beetles are usually black in color, growing up to only half an inch. Also referred to as black ground beetles, these beetles are intensely black, with dark brown marking on their legs and antennae.
Most ground beetles are harmless to people as they don’t bite them. But some species like scarites or quadriceps can pinch your skin which may mildly hurt. Ground beetles prefer to stay outdoors in moist areas, under stones, leaves, and wood logs. In case they enter inside, they can wreak havoc. Therefore, cleaning and vacuuming their residential areas is a significant step to get rid of them.
This is a variety of beetles that can’t fly but prefers to climb shrubbery or trees to find its prey. Some common types of ground beetles are as follows:
4· Tiger Beetle
Belonging to the subfamily Cicidelinae, tiger beetles (both larvae and adults) are ravenous eaters. These beetles have a slender body and long legs, with a size of about 10 to 20mm. Their large, bulgy eyes help them see better than most other types of beetles.
These beetles are exotic looking due to all the multiple colors they feature in such as orange, green, blue, and scarlet. They are also fast runners and can catch their prey in seconds.
5· Violin Beetles
Belonging to the subfamily of Lebiinae, violin beetles possess unique violin-shaped elytra. These species prefer to live among the layers of bracket fungi (polypores).
Harpalus is a type of ground beetle that consists of about 500 species and subspecies. Like many ground beetles, these creatures are widely found in North America.
These species are native to regions like North America, North Africa, the Near East, and the Palearctic. Research shows that there are approximately 190 species of scarites. Generally, these pests can be found under rocks and wooden boards.
8. Solider Beetles
While not all beetles are good for your garden, soldier beetles are exceptional as they are considered to be beneficial insects. Studies show that soldier beetle larvae eliminate predatory insects from the garden.
Soldier beetles are often confused with fireflies as they both look similar. When flying, these pests are thought as wasps and hence brushed away. Trained gardeners are aware of the importance of soldier beetles and hence find ways to attract these species to their garden.
But one thing that needs to be taken care of is to ensure that these pests can’t enter inside your house as they can damage your property. You can prevent them from entering by sealing your windows through weather-stripping etc.
The best way to identify soldier beetles is by knowing that they are yellow or tan in color, with black markings on their both pair of wings. However, their coloring may vary depending on the region they are living in.
Also known as glowworms and lightning bugs, fireflies produce a chemical reaction that releases light. All the species have an exclusive lightning pattern and the males use this pattern to let the females know that they will be the perfect match for them. These lights also serve as a defense mechanism, signaling a warning sign of the prey’s unappetizing taste.
Fireflies are about the size of a paper clip, which means that they are hardly an inch long. They are also found in a wide range of hues such as light red, yellow, orange, and green. These insects function well in warm and moist areas and, therefore, are a common sight in summer evenings/nights of moist regions of Asia and America.
10. Leaf Beetle
Belonging to the Chrysomelidae family, leaf beetles have their habitats in tropic regions. Research shows that there are about 35,000 species of leaf beetles that are concentrated in different parts of the world.
Generally, these beetles have an oval shaped body, short legs, and the antennae half the size of their body length. Overall, these creatures are smaller than 12 mm in total length. As suggested by their name, leaf beetles prefer feeding on leaves as well as crops. In addition to leaves being their real source of food, these species prefer to reside in leaf-concentrated areas. Their habit of consuming leaves can adversely affect environmental conditions.
These insects have the ability to produce poisonous chemicals that serve as their primary defense mechanism. These poisons are not only harmful to other predators, but to human beings as well. The toxin released from their mouths can instantly cause neuronal diseases among humans.
11. Click Beetles
Also known as snapping beetle, spring beetle, and skipjack, click beetles widely range from 2.5 mm to 18 mm in length and appear in colors like reddish brown or plain black. Some species, especially tropical ones, exhibit more bright hues such as luminous red.
One of their types – the eyed elator which is concentrated in North America—can grow up to 45 mm in length and have two big monochromatic spots on their prothorax.
These species are named after the “clicking noise” they make when caught by a predator. These beetles prefer to feed on leaves at night. These types of beetles can also prove to be extremely destructive in nature, having the ability to destroy plant seeds, plant roots, and plant stems. Gardeners place sweet baits in fields to trap these pests as they are attracted to sweet liquids.
Owing to their slender and elongated body, click beetles are often referred to as wireworms. They do not only pose a threat to crops but can destroy your property too. These species can be found in your house, around tube lights/bulbs or moist areas.
These types of beetles usually enter into the house in the hope of escaping cold weather conditions. Their infestation can be treated using vacuums. It is important to vacuum areas like nook and crannies, gaps, and holes in your house where these pests can easily go into hiding.
12. Scarab Beetle
Belonging to Scarabaeidae family, scarab beetles are heavy, oval-shaped insects, with distinctive antennae which are flattened to look like a club. Their front legs are toothed which help them in digging to hide from their predators and construct their habitat. Depending on the type, these pests vary from 5 mm to 12 cm. One of their types – African goliath beetle is known to be the heaviest beetle.
Just as they differ in sizes, different species of scarab beetles vary in their habits as well. Some of these insects prefer to feed on dead insects and plants, or manure, while others prefer to feed on growing leaves, roots, and fungi. Following are some of the subfamilies of scarab beetles:
13· June Beetles
Also called as June bug or May beetle, June beetles consist of nearly 300 species of beetles that are largely distributed among plant-eating subfamilies. June beetles possess luminous elytra and reddish brown body that varies from 12 to 25 mm.
These beetles feed on flowers and foliage at nighttime; their eating habits often lead to damage in the garden as they can destroy many types of crops including potatoes, strawberries, grains, and corn.
14· Rose Beetles
As the name implies, these are the species that attack roses as these flowers are their main source of food. In order to protect your garden roses, use insecticides that are specially designed to kill the pest without ruining the beauty of the lovely flower.
15· Japanese Beetle
With the scientific name as Popillia japonica, the Japanese beetle is exceedingly destructive in nature. These small beetles can be found in gardens and in various types of landscapes of the United States.
Research shows that these insects have a total of 300 species that prefer to feed on flowers, fruits, and foliage. However, the larvae, typically known as white grubs, consume roots of grasses in parks, lawns, and golf courses.
These tiny creatures are a ½ inch in their overall size and can be identified from their metallic bluish green heads, copper-colored backs, and simple wings with tiny white hair on each side of their abdomen. Japanese beetles can be treated in multiple ways. For example, you can treat them by spraying neem oil onto plants, use insecticides, or trap them through fruit cocktail.
16. Checkered Beetle
Belonging to the Cleridae family, checkered beetles are very hairy species of beetles. They have a deep, shiny blue body with a black and red wing casing. The abdomen, like their body, is deep red.
Unfortunately, these beetles became endangered and have become extinct in the UK in the 1800s. However, they can still be found in many parts of the European countries where they are commonly referred to as “Clarion des Ruches” which means “Bugle of the Beehive.”
These species feed on small insects and pollen while larvae consume bees’ grubs and wasps. They are typically seen in summers (May to August) in parks, gardens, woodlands, and hedgerows.
17. Dogbane Beetle
With their bright green luminosity, dogbane beetles are one of the most attractive species of beetles. Due to their tiny size, it is easy to overlook them, but in an open field and right light, these shiny creatures can captivate the beholder. These species have a green head while their elytra are gold, copper, and emerald with tiny specks on them.
The dogbane beetle feeds on the dogbane plant, also known as American hemp or Indian hemp. The plant is not only their main source of food but an ultimate spot to find their mating partner. The females lay eggs in their own feces and protect them by attaching them to the underside of a leaf.
18. Blister Beetle
The blister beetle consists of approximately 2500 species of beetles. These pests are known to give off an instigating substance – cantharidin which is gathered from the European species – Spanish fly and Mylabris. Cantharidin is a popular remedy for skin problems like warts. In older times, it was an important ingredient in “love potions”.
Adult blister beetles have long, slender bodies, ranging between 3 to 20 mm in length. Some of these species appear in an intense black color with a red head while others have their bodies covered with bright emerald or blue wings.
19. Tortoise Beetle
Small, rounded or sometimes oval in shape, tortoise beetles are quite unique in their appearance. They feature in a number of colors ranging from yellow to red to blue with tiny black spots on their body. The larvae, on the other hand, consist of dull brown, yellow, or green heads.
Adult tortoise beetles measure up to a ¼ inch in size with hard wing covers that keep them protected against their enemies. These sturdy wing covers also allow them to tightly stick to leaves and hide. All of these traits make it supremely hard for the predators to get a hold of these pests.
The fundamental source of food for tortoise beetles is various kinds of plants such as corns, raspberries, cabbage, strawberries, milkweed, and eggplant. Some of these species also feed on sweet potato plants. These beetles can pose a great threat to your garden plants and therefore it is important that you look after them on a daily basis. Get rid of these pests by removing them with your hands and cleaning the area or spraying powerful insecticides to kill them for good.
There are many diverse forms of beetles in this world, and each specie exhibits unique physical and non-physical attributes that make them amazing in every way.