Beetles are among the most diverse insects known to man. The variance in their size, shape, color and environmental preference is more vast than any other insect group. Unfortunately, many people have a negative view of insects and are generally uncomfortable around these harmless beings. The Beatles were a well-known band and one of the few pop-culture references made to this insect.
The only place on earth devoid of beetles are the Polar Regions and oceanic waters. Beetles are nature’s great pest control. These creatures feed on harmful, crop-damaging fungi and insects such as aphids, thrips and scale insects.
These insects are commonly collected by zoologists as desirable samples and are unique and interesting to study. Museums often hold vast collections of beetles for viewing. These can be particularly interesting due to their unlimited combinations of body types, colors, wings, and shells.
Beetles Come In Many Shapes
Beetles are fairly reasonable in their environmental expectations. Most will live anywhere in the world, preferring warmer climates, but able to exist within cooler temperatures as well. Some eat other insects, while others usually feast on flowers and foliage. Occasionally they have been known to scavenge for berries and fruit – all depending on the beetle species. These insects show adept versatility. Their natural habitat may vary according to their dietary requirements but they will adapt to live almost anywhere.
Beetles Come In Many Different Colors
Beetles can exist both above and below ground, in water and in nests. They are sometimes found in homes and gardens. They are often found living close to other social insects, such as termites or rats, though they are not known to carry disease. These critters are social by nature, and though many are poisonous to their predators, seldom do they bite or harm humans.
Life Cycle of Beetles
Beetle life beings within an egg. Females have a vast variation of reproduction abilities, and while some species of beetle may only lay dozens of eggs in their lifetime, others can populate by the thousands. Typically beetles will lay their eggs directly within the insects’ food source or close to it. This method of placement enables the newly hatched larvae to feed immediately upon hatching.
There are many methods and variations in the reproductive phase, and all depend on the species in question. Some types of beetles will simply lay their eggs and leave, while others still create nests to protect their young. Other beetles even stay after the eggs have hatched to care for and nourish the larvae.
The larva stage is the primary feeding stage after a beetle hatches. Many species of beetle will feed immediately after hatching into a food source. The length of this stage varies among the different species, but typically lasts anywhere from weeks to several years. Larvae from this family are highly advanced with well-developed segmented bodies, unlike many other common insects that require time to grow into adulthood.
Beetles will work through several development stages as larvae. These stages are labeled as instars, and the first of these stages tends to be the most mobile of a young larva’s existence. It is in this stage that the insects search for their food. The following instars are less active for the larvae as they stick close to their food source once it’s discovered. Larvae evolve into adulthood through pupating, and will emerge from the process as fully-formed, sexually mature adult beetles.
Beetles and Humans
Close to three quarters of the entire population of beetles live in or on plants, wood, fungi and many types of stored products such as dried fruits, grains, tobacco and cereal (a larder beetle favorite). They can live with humans, but generally prefer an outdoor habitat. They are often considered pests if found in the home, and while not usually harmful to humans, they can cause extensive damage to food, cotton and tobacco crops if their population numbers are not controlled. These insects also have the capability of spreading disease to plants but not to humans.
Ladybugs are renowned for their natural pest control of aphids, which is beneficial to individual and commercial crops alike. These helpful red delights also feed on scale insects and mealybugs which can be a gardener’s dream come true. Dung beetles are useful in reducing and eliminating populations of flies and parasitic worms that populate within cattle waste. These innovative creatures roll the waste quickly into the soil, which not only improves ground fertilization and nutrition, but eliminates the opportunity for nasty parasites and disease-spreading insects to multiply within. In third world countries these creatures help to improve standards of hygiene.
There are over 400,000 species of Beetles. As you can see identification of this pest is important. There are beetles that eat clothing, there are beetles that eat your food storage there are even beetles that eat human flesh in seconds! Ok, well that last one is a stretch, it’s a myth popularized by the movie called the mummy. While the horrifying beetles in the mummy were fiction, beetles that eat you out of your house and home (literally) is fact and is probably happening while you read this. Read our beetle control page and learn the best way to get rid of these pests.
(Fun fact: The beetle you see in the movie mummy was the scarab, they used the beetle in agent Egyptian time to clean the flesh off hard to reach place before wrapping a mummy. The process takes some time (3-6 weeks). Even today we use bugs to clean the bones. Watch this interesting video below to learn more)
Beetle Scientific Name: Coleoptera
The beetle belongs to the animal, or Animalia kingdom. It falls under the Arthropoda phylum and is classified as an insect, or Insecta. It is part of the order of Coleopetra. The order Coleopetra encompasses all beetles, and the word stems from the Greek language, meaning “sheath” and “wing”, thus, “sheathed wing.”
Beetles In a Museum
Beetles are distinguishable by their hard exoskeletons and tough fore-wings called elytra. It is this feature that sets beetles apart from other insects. The exoskeleton is composed of many small plates called sclerites, which are separated by thin sutures. This intricate and unique design creates a sort of armor that aids in defending the beetle, while still allowing for the flexibility of movement and flight.
This winged insect has a generally universal composition, though organs and appendages take on many different sizes, colors and shapes from order to order. True to the distinction of all insects, beetles have bodies that can be divided into three sections: its head, thorax and abdomen and are not usually considered a pest unless found in the home or in large quantities.