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"Beetles are the largest order of animals on Earth"

According to biologists, there are at least 400,000 species or types of beetles, all belonging to the Coleoptera, Enoptera and various lower classifications. These insects make up a quarter of all animal life forms and are the majority of insects. They are found all over the world except in the oceans, Antarctica, and the Arctic, although some species are hardy against severe cold, while others are at least semi-aquatic.

Some are horrible pests and some are beneficial. While many are black or brown, others boast beautiful colors and patterns, with metallic or iridescent carapaces. They range from the smallest, Scydosella musawasensis, to the largest, Hercules beetle, which can grow to over 7 inches.

Beetle infographic

© AZ-Animals.com

4 Incredible Beetle Facts!

  • There are approximately 300 species of beetles eaten by humans, usually in the larval stage.
  • These insects evolved about 270 million years ago.
  • While bedbugs are an umbrella term for various insects; beetles, and bedbugs are distinct. Beetles have stiff forewings, or elytra, and their mouthparts are used for chewing. The exception is blister beetles, which also have straws. The mouthparts of insects are used for sucking and piercing.
  • Beetle larvae can be distinguished from other insect larvae because of their hard, often black heads. They have chewing mouthparts and stomata, or small holes, that allow them to breathe on the sides of their bodies. Some are called grubs. Grubs eat organic matter, which is grass and plant roots.

Species, types and scientific names

Reddish brown stag beetle on zinnia flower
This cute guy is a stag beetle.

Coleoptera is derived from the Greek words for "elytra" and "wing," because the insects have tough forewings. The lower classification of Coleoptera is not only numerous but also complex, with families, superfamilies and suborders according to the food of the animals and even the tiny structures on their heads, mouthparts or hind legs. The following are some of the more populous families, superfamilies, suborders, suborders, and tribes:

Adephaga, under which taxa Hydradephaga and Geadephaga include 5,560 and 35,000 species, respectively, includes diving beetles and ground beetles. The Polyphaga order is the most diverse. The Polyphaga family includes Staphylinidae, with 48,000 species, and Scarabaeoidea, with 35,000 species, including scarabs. Other families include Elateroidea with 23,000 species and Tenebrionoidea with 35,000 species. The superfamily Chrysomeloidea includes the families Chrysomelidae, Cerambycidae, and Curculionoidea. These families have 35,000, 25,000, and 97,000 species, respectively, and include weevils.

The scientific names of some popular beetles are:

  • Asian Ladybug: Harmonia axyridis is one of the most common ladybugs and belongs to the ladybug family.
  • Hercules beetle: Dynastes hercules is a member of the scarab family.
  • Giant Staghorn Beetle: Lucanus elaphus belongs to the deer family.
  • Green June Bug: This large insect with a bright green carapace is not a bug but a beetle. Its scientific name is Cotinis nitida , and it belongs to the family Scarabidae and the subfamily Cetoniinae.
  • Common Oriental Firefly: This insect is a beetle, not a fly, and its scientific name is Photinus pyralis . It belongs to the Lampyridae family and the Photinini tribe.
  • Arizona scarab beetle: This tiny insect , Physonota arizonae, looks like it was made from a drop of molten gold. It belongs to the polyphagous suborder.
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evolution and origin

tiger beetle
Tiger beetles live in the sand near beaches.


One can find beetles in many different habitats, from parks to rainforests and tundra. With nearly 400,000 species of beetles, they are the most diverse animals on Earth. This abundance has long puzzled scientists. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace were two of the many who used beetles to develop the theory of evolution. However, understanding the evolution and origin of beetles is difficult. A research team used a data set of 68 genes and 57 fossils to construct an evolutionary tree of the beetle. The results showed that various beetle populations continued to expand as new ecological opportunities emerged.

The success of the beetles appears to be due to their remarkable adaptability, since their evolution did not start from a single moment. The new timeline of the beetle's development will help to better understand how the species became so successful. Recent research and analysis has identified 193 living and extinct beetle families, with the oldest fossils dating back 295 million years—before dinosaurs even came to Earth.

To gain insight into the wide variety of beetles in the world today, researchers studied their genetics, physical characteristics and rare fossils to trace their evolutionary history. It has been concluded that beetles first arose during the Carboniferous period and later diversified with dinosaurs during the Triassic and Jurassic periods.

Appearance: How to Identify Them

Types of Beetles - Emerald Ash Borer
The Emerald Ash Borer is a beetle that eats the tissue under the bark of the ash tree.

©Herman Wong HM/Shutterstock.com

Adults always have wings, their forewings are stiff and not used for flight. Instead, they are used to cover the hind wings used for flight. When closed, they form a straight line across the back. The forewings extend all the way to the back of the abdomen. If they do not extend to the back of the abdomen, the insect is considered a true bug.

The body can be elongated, cylindrical, round, semicircular, or flat with chewing mouthparts. They can be black or brown, but many are brightly colored. Their antennae almost always have 11 segments, but can be shorter or longer than the body. They have large, well-developed compound eyes, and their legs have evolved to allow insects to run, jump, swim, grasp and dig.

The larvae live underground or burrow into dead or living wood, roots or seeds. Some eat other invertebrates, carrion, decaying plants, or fungi, and pupate under soil, wood, or decaying bark. Most do not spit cocoons. Some larvae are parasitic, living on or inside a living host.

Most beetles don't live longer than a year, but some can take more than a year to pupate. Adults are attracted to lights at night and are easy to find on plants during the day.

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Population and Distribution

Asbolus verrucosus (Desert Iron Beetle or Blue Feign Death Beetle) beetle on desert driftwood.
Asbolus verrucosus (Desert Iron Beetle or Blue Feign Death Beetle) beetle on desert driftwood.


Beetles are actually the largest insect order. In fact, there are approximately 400,000 different species, accounting for approximately 40% of all insect species. A 2015 study showed that four independent estimates of the number of beetle species put the number of beetles at about 1.5 million, all with narrow ranges. There are an estimated 2.1 million different types of beetles. In layman's terms, this means that there are more beetles than any other insect species.

Beetles are found in nearly all habitats, including freshwater and coastal areas. Anywhere there is vegetation, you'll find beetles living in bark, flowers, and leaves. The heaviest beetle in the insect stage is the larva of the Goliath beetle, which can weigh a little over 4 ounces and be about 5 inches long.


Cotton leaf beetle
Of all the beetles native to Arizona, the cottonwood is one of the most visually appealing.

©Sebastian Fachbach/Shutterstock.com

These insects can be found almost everywhere. Even a cursory look at a tree, shrub, or plant will reveal some kind of beetle that may be actively eating the plant or simply resting on it. They are found under rocks, under old tree bark, in rotting logs and in dunghills. They are found in and around food, clothing, rugs, rugs and upholstery. If the porch light is on, they fly to it.

Aquatic beetles live primarily in freshwater, but some of them do live in shallow water close to shore. Adults usually carry air bubbles or have their exoskeletons modified to allow them to breathe underwater.


what beetles eat
Beetles eat a variety of foods, from carrion to plants.

© AZ-Animals.com

The materials these insects eat hardly make the list. Some eat only plant material. Some are scavengers and some are omnivores. Some eat only one type of plant, while others are hunters of other insects, spiders, snails and earthworms. Others eat dung and carrion, while others eat beetles that eat dung and carrion. Many beetles rely on fungi present in their guts to help them digest their food. Weevils eat plant parts, flour and grains.

Prevention: How to Get Rid of Them

bee beetle
Bee beetles are found in gardens, lawns, and areas with blooms, especially around roses and thyme flowers.


There are many ways to get rid of beetle pests. They can be simply plucked from the host plant and squashed or placed in soapy water. They can be dusted with insecticidal powder, although this can cause some collateral damage to insects such as butterflies and ladybugs. Their larvae may come into contact with nematodes or parasitic wasps. Sometimes beetle control is drastic. If wood is concerned about harboring pests, it may need to be quarantined and treated with pesticides. It is sometimes necessary to cut and burn overgrown forests to deter wood-boring beetle infestation.

See all 280 animals that start with B

about the author

Heather Hall

I'm a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by nature. When I do my daily runs, I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I have two dogs that take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

Beetle FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are beetles herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Beetles are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

To which kingdom do beetles belong?

Beetles belong to the animal kingdom.

What phylum do beetles belong to?

Beetles belong to the phylum Arthropoda.

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Which category does the Beetle belong to?

Beetles belong to the class Insecta.

What type of mulch does the Beetle have?

The beetle is covered with a shell.

Where did the Beatles live?

Beetles are found all over the world.

What type of habitat do beetles live in?

Beetles live in most terrestrial and freshwater habitats.

What is the main prey of beetles?

Beetles prey on insects, dust and droppings.

Who are the beetle's natural enemies?

Natural enemies of beetles include bats, frogs, and reptiles.

What is the average litter size for a beetle?

The average litter size for beetles is 200.

Any interesting facts about the Beatles?

There are over 350,000 different Beetle species!

How many species of beetles are there?

There are 350,000 species of beetles.

How do you get rid of Japanese beetles?

There are several ways to get rid of Popillia japonica . One way is to dust with an insecticide, but this runs the risk of killing beneficial insects that might settle on the same plant. A more targeted approach is to simply shake them off the plant into a bowl of soapy water. This kills them instantly. Pre-emergent insecticides can also be applied to the area around the plants. This kills Japanese beetle grubs that live underground. Birds such as cardinals and jays can easily feed on Japanese beetles, so their visits to the area should be encouraged by setting up bird baths and feeding stations.

Are beetles harmful?

Some are harmful, especially to plants. For example, boll weevils cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost cotton plants.

Why are there beetles in my house?

Beetles enter homes because they can find food and shelter, and they've found a way to get in. They can enter through the tiniest of crevices, open doors or windows, or spread through groceries, furniture or clothing.

Can Beetles Kill You?

Beetles do not kill humans, but some may bite when they feel threatened. The blister beetle releases a toxin called cantharidin that causes blisters on the skin, and Onychocerus albitarsis is the only beetle with a sting, but the discomfort from the sting is temporary. But in general, these insects are mostly dangerous to plants and other invertebrates.

Why are beetles bad?

Not all beetles are bad, but those that are considered "bad" destroy plants that people want and need, including garden plants, trees, and crops.

How do you get rid of carpet beetles?

While adults are harmless, their presence in the house means that larvae may be present. The larvae are those that eat the fiber and cause damage. Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of them. Boric acid can be sprinkled on the area where they are found, a small amount of boric acid is not harmful to humans or pets, nor is diatomaceous earth. Dust can be swept into the material with a brush, left to sit for a few hours, then vacuumed.

Carpet beetles can also be deterred by spraying with insecticides such as bifenthrin or simply spraying with vinegar. Regular vacuuming can also control these pests.

What is the main difference between beetles and bedbugs?

The biggest difference between beetles and insects can be found in their phylogenetic families and their metamorphosis. Specifically, beetles belong to the order Coleoptera of the class Insecta, while bugs belong to the order Hemiptera of the class Insecta.

what the beetle said in

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.

  1. Bon Vila, available here: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-get-rid-of-carpet-beetles/
  2. Discovery, available here: https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/natural-antifreeze-keeps-beetles-unfrozen
  3. Science Direct, available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/whirligig-beetle
  4. Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetle
  5. Texas A & M Agrilife Extension, available here: https://agrilife.org/urban-ipm/2016/04/29/beetle-or-true-bug/