30+ Interesting Facts About Beetles

  1. There are more than 400,000 species of beetles, which makes it the largest order in insects. The estimated number of total beetle species is between 1 and 2 million (an average of 1.5 million).
  2. There are more than 80,000 species of weevils, and they constitute the largest family of beetles. The smallest suborder of beetles is Archostemata, which has fewer than 50 known species.
  3. The fire chaser beetle can spot a fire 80 miles away. These insects prefer forest fires because they lay eggs in forests with freshly burnt trees. They detect fire quickly thanks to infrared receptors in their thorax. (Source)
  4. Dermetids, commonly known as flesh-eating beetles, eat the flesh of carcasses without damaging the skeleton. They assist in forensic cases where chemicals can damage bones. (Source)
  5. A species of Australian tiger beetle is the fastest insect on earth. It can run at 5.6 mph (9 km/h). This insect cannot see anything while running at top speed. (Source)
  6. Beetles have close contact with toxic elements present in soil and leaf litter. It is the reason that these insects prove to be an excellent indicator of the terrestrial ecosystem. They are especially beneficial as bioindicators of environmental pollution. (Source)
  7. Beetles usually have a strong exoskeleton that includes hardened forewing (elytra). It is an important characteristic that distinguishes beetles from most insects.  
  8. Few beetle species are harmful to crops and act as pests. Some famous ones are coconut leaf beetle (on coconuts), boll weevil (on cotton buds and flowers), mountain pine beetle (pine forest), and Colorado potato beetle (potato crop).
  9. Beetles are present everywhere on earth except Antarctica and other areas with extreme environments.
  10. There are several beetles that prove beneficial for crops through various functions. The most famous are ladybirds (eat aphids) and dung beetles (make the soil fertile).
  11.  A species of dung beetle is the world’s strongest insect that can pull weight 1,141 times its body weight. (Source)
  12. Bombardier beetles can bombard hot caustic chemicals as a defensive technique against predators. This insect can do so by using two chambers present inside its abdomen. This chemical is usually not life-threatening but harmful to the predator. However, it does not cause any harm to the bombardier beetle. (Source)
  13. Burying beetles are known for burying carcasses of small animals in the soil as a food source for their young. A study shows that these beetles use their gut secretions to convert toxic substances in the carcass into nutritious nurseries for their offspring. (Source)
  14. Few beetles act as parasites. An example is the bristle beetle that uses the bee as its host. This beetle attracts male bees by secreting a chemical similar to sex pheromones emitted by female bees. (Source)
  15. The goliath beetle is the heaviest insect on earth. Male goliath beetles can attain a weight of up to 100 grams (3.5 oz.). The titan beetle has the longest body size among beetles, with a body length of 6 in. (15 cm). On the other hand, the Hercules beetle has the longest overall length of 7 in. (17 cm), thanks to its long pair of horns. (Source)
    A male Hercules beetle on a tree trunk
    Male Hercules beetle is the longest due to its long horn

  16. Smaller beetles are considerably small as well. Scydosella is not only the smallest beetle but also the smallest free-living insect that can be 0.325 mm in length.
  17. Red cochineal beetles are used to produce a red dye called carmine. This beetle-based color is used in several foods like yogurt, cream, candy, and fruit drinks. It is commonly labeled as “artificial color” or “natural and artificial color.” (Source)
  18. Few species of beetles are considered an easily-available food source in parts of the world. Mealworms and rhinoceros beetles are a few examples. (Source)
  19. Beetles are one of the first insects to pollinate flowers, and they are doing so even today. Beetles usually pollinate ancient species of flowers having particular traits (large or cluster of small flowers, open during the day, moderate nectar producers, etc.). (Source 
  20. Wood beetles are valuable as they recycle decomposing dead trees. They digest the dead matter of these trees to make their living cells, with assistance from fungi. (Source)
  21. During the 1890s, live beetles had common usage as jewelry by respectable women. These insects were displayed on a chain or sewn on the outfit for maximum exposure. (Source)
  22. There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies. These glowing insects are also part of beetles. Unlike other glowworms, most fireflies have wings. 
  23. The Panamanian golden tortoise beetle, also known as the color-changing beetle, has a see-through shell. The inner part of its body is usually metallic-gold in color. But it can change to red when the insect is disturbed.
  24. Most of the beetles live on land. But thousands of species are also aquatic, living in fresh or marine water. Some important aquatic beetles are true water beetles (more than 4,000 species), water scavenger beetles (more than 3,000 species), and whirligig beetles (700 species).
  25. Most beetle species eat plant food, but few are also carnivores. Ground beetles eat insects or snails, while diving beetles (or true water beetles) consume aquatic animals, including fish.
  26. Most beetles communicate through chemicals. Few make sounds with their mouthparts or by rubbing their legs on their bodies. Others may vibrate. Beetles do not have good eyesight.
  27. Apart from fireflies, click beetles and glowworms also produce light. All these beetles have different organs where the light-producing process takes place.
  28. Beetle-like organisms initially appeared on earth around 270 million years ago. Modern-day beetles have been present on earth for 230 million years.
  29. Female beetles lay eggs on various surfaces, depending on species. The egg-laying process takes place where sufficient food is available for newly-born beetles. A single female may lay hundreds of eggs.
  30. Few beetle species can bite humans on occasion. Long-horned beetles, stag beetles, blister beetles, and African bombardier beetles are a few of the beetles that may bite humans. Their bite is painful and can cause swelling, blister, or skin burning. (Source)
  31. The color of some species of beetles and other insects does not fade even after centuries of their death. It happens because they create structural colors that scatter light in place of perishable colors. (Source)
  32. San (Bushmen) tribes of Namibia have been using poison from leaf beetles to make their arrows lethal since ancient times. (Source)

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