Beetles are the most diverse group of animals on the planet. In fact, one out of every four described species is a beetle! Beetles are found worldwide in all major habitats, except the ocean and the poles. Beetles have two pairs of wings, with the fore wings being hardened into a shell-like protective covering called elytra. They undergo complete metamorphosis, with their larvae taking the form of a maggot-like grub. Beetles are important to humans as pests, pollinators, biocontrol agents, and food. Beetles are the subject of many ancient myths and are even sought after to make jewelry.
Blue Death-Feigning Beetles
The blue death-feigning beetle lives in dry desert environments in the southwestern USA. It has grooves on the back of its elytra to help it catch rainwater. The water is channeled down the back of the animal towards the neck and mouth increasing the amount of water the beetle is able to drink. It is a scavenger and will use its chewing mouthparts to eat a variety of foods. This beetle secretes a waxy substance over its body to prevent dehydration and overheating. It will also ‘play dead’ when disturbed to avoid being eaten. This behavior can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours. When the beetle is sure there is no longer any danger, it will right itself and continue on its way!
Warrior beetles are voracious predatory beetles native to the southwestern USA. They hunt for other insects along the ground, as they are flightless. They are a nocturnal species, spending the day in burrows underground.
Rainbow Scarab Dung Beetle
Rainbow scarab dung beetles are native to the eastern USA. These beetles are a beautiful iridescent green, with a red pronotum. Males have a large horn, while females have none. This species feeds on the dung of other animals, mostly mammals. Females and males search for dung during the day. Once they find a good food source, they will dig a tunnel underneath the dung and slowly shuttle it underground to form a ball where they can lay their eggs. Once the larvae hatches, it will burrow into the ball of dung and begin feeding. These beetles are extremely important for nutrient recycling.