Facts About the Ubiquitous Beetle

, , Leave a comment


Beetles belong to the order Coleopteran. This is the largest order of insects. The Coleopteran order constitutes 40% of the known insect population. There are 360,000 species of Coleopteran and the largest, most brilliant and striking insects belong to this order.

FACT 1: Beetles are found all over the world, in all climates with the exception of Antarctica and very high altitudes. Though species of beetles are found in areas lying close to the Arctic most are found in the tropical areas. Beetles have 2 pairs of wings. The front pair is covered with a horny plate. The front wings fold over the rear wings and the abdomen, and meet in a straight line down the middle of the back. Their hard back ensures that there are not many animals, birds or insects that find them a tasty meal. Beetles are divided into four groups. The majority are found in the group Polyphaga.

FACT 2: The vast variety of beetles found on earth, have a vast variety of diets. Together they consume almost all known natural substances. Some species of beetles are predators. They feed on larva such as caterpillars, or aphids and scale insects.

FACT 3: Most species are plant feeders. Many plant feeders are considered pests. The leaf and bark beetles respectively destroy leaves and bark, in both their adult and larval stages. Bean beetles deposit their eggs in peas or beans and the larva develop in the seeds. Some beetles feed below the bark of the tree damaging the layer that produces the new cells for plant growth (cambium). Some scarab beetles are specialised in destroying palm trees and others bore through wood.

FACT 4: The cigarette beetle feeds on tobacco, making them both field and household pests. Other household pests are beetles that damage furniture by boring into the wood. They are called powder post beetles. Beetles destroy carpets, fur coat and clothing.

FACT 5: Not all beetles are pests. Carrion species are used by zoologists to clean skeletons. Farmers buy beetles to rid their crops of aphids and other crop destroyers. Some beetles are scavengers. They are an integral part of an eco-system. They break down dead logs, dead plant and animal matter and even excrement. The dung –beetle, sacred to Ancient Egyptians, recycles dung. It rolls the dung into balls and lays eggs in it. The larva hatches in the ball and feed on them till the next stage of growth.

FACT 6: The male rhinoceros beetle has horns on the front of its face. The horns are never used to inflict injury. The male pushes out rivals for females or feeding areas using its horn. The Hercules beetle is the largest insect. It is 18cm long of which about 10 cm is a horn. These beetles called scarabs may spend 3 to 4 years developing from egg to adult.

FACT 7: The most popular beetle is undoubtedly the ladybird. Ladybirds come is different shades of red with black markings (usually spots) on the back. The nine spotted ladybird has 4 spots on each outer wing and one spot in the centre, shared by both wings. The lady bird was named after the Virgin Mary. It was called the beetle of Our Lady. Ladybirds are insect eaters and therefore farmer’s friends. The Australian ladybird was brought to North America to control insects that were destroying the orchards.

FACT 8: The life cycle of the beetle goes from egg to larva to pupa to adult. During the pupa stage they stop eating and may be parasitic.

FACT 9: Most beetles reproduce bi sexually, but some species are known to be parthenogenetic. The eggs do not need to be fertilized. These species have only females.

FACT 10: A warming climate is thought to be responsible for the epidemic of the mountain pine beetle that is destroying the forests of the Rocky Mountains. The epidemic is spreading to Canada and thousands of trees have been burnt in Alberta to control the epidemic.

Tea Time Quiz

[forminator_poll id="23176"]

Leave a Reply