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National Insect Week returns in 2020

Beetle gallery

We live on the ‘Planet of the Beetles’! Beetles (which belong to the insect order Coleoptera, meaning sheath-winged) have lived on Earth since long before the age of the dinosaurs. There are over 370,000 known species of beetle and they are found in every land and freshwater habitat in the world. Beetles typically use just their hind-wings for flying: the front pair are modified as hard wing-cases, which cover and protect the flight wings when the beetle is at rest. Like many other insects, beetles undergo a complete metamorphosis in their life-cycles and the immature larvae look very different from the adults. In the UK alone there are over 4000 beetle species belonging to over 100 families, so the examples illustrated in this Beetle Gallery are just a small selection from the huge variety of British beetles.

  • Rove beetle

    Rove beetle, Staphylinus erythropterus

    Factsheet

    Staphylinus erythropterus – (family Staphylinidae) Rove beetles are characterized by having greatly shortened wing-cases with their flying wings much-folded underneath. This gives them narrow flexible bodies that allow them to chase their prey rapidly through complex spaces such as densely matted...
  • Black-tipped soldier beetle

    Common red soldier beetle, Rhagonycha fulva

    Factsheet

    Rhagonycha fulva – (family Cantharidae) This is probably the commonest British soldier beetle and the adults are found later than other species, in July and early August. It is usually seen on flowers where it feeds on nectar and pollen, but also robs and eats other flower-visiting insects: it can...
  • Black-headed cardinal beetle

    Cardinal beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea

    Factsheet

    Pyrochroa coccinea – (family Pyrochroidae) This distinctively-coloured cardinal beetle has a somewhat flattened shape and comb-like antennae. The adults are usually found on flowers near the edges of woods. The carnivorous larvae live underneath dry bark, where they eat other insects – or each...
  • Longhorn beetle

    Longhorn beetle, Rhagium mordax

    Factsheet

    Rhagium mordax – (family Cerambycidae) Some longhorn beetles do not have particularly long antennae – this species is one of them. Rhagium mordax is a common species in the early summer, when the adults are often seen on hawthorn and hogweed flowers. The larvae tunnel and feed in soft well-rotted...
  • Ground beetle

    Ground beetle, Agonum assimile

    Factsheet

    Agonum assimile – a ground beetle (family Carabidae) One of the many British ground beetles (though not all of the 370 or so species actually live on or under the ground). This quite common species is most often found under the bark of decaying wood in shady woodland. Like most ground beetles, it...
  • Click beetle

    Click beetle, Ampedus sanguinolentus

    Factsheet

    Ampedus sanguinolentus (family Elateridae) These beetles get their common name from the distinctive click that they make as they propel themselves into the air (as shown here) with a special mechanism that uses powerful muscles in the thorax. Their larvae have a long thin body and are often called...
  • Banded pill beetle

    Pill beetle, Byrrhus fasciatus

    Factsheet

    Byrrhus fasciatus - (family Byrrhidae) This pill beetle is one of the very few insects that eats moss. It is a slow-moving beetle but it has an effective defence from attack: it can withdraw its legs and antennae into special grooves on the underside of its body, making it difficult for a predator...
  • Soldier beetle

    Soldier beetle, Cantharis pellucida

    Factsheet

    Cantharis pellucida - (family Cantharidae) Soldier beetles are so-called because they are slender and straight, and often have red, black, blue or yellow colouring reminiscent of regimental uniforms. Cantharis pellucida is a common species, though the adults are seen only for a rather short period...
  • Violet ground beetle

    Violet ground beetle, Carabus violaceus

    Factsheet

    Carabus violaceus - (family Carabidae) This is one of the largest of British ground beetles. It is widespread in the UK: it is especially associated with wooded areas, but is also commonly found in gardens. Like most ground beetles it is a nocturnal predator and often spends the daytime hidden...
  • Rose chafer

    Rose chafer beetle, Cetonia aurata

    Factsheet

    Cetonia aurata - (family Scarabaeidae) This typically metallic-green chafer is on the wing – rather noisily – in midsummer, and is usually seen feeding on flowers. This species is restricted to southern areas of Britain and is not found north of the English Midlands, though a similar bronze-...
  • Green tiger beetle

    Green tiger beetle, Cicindela campestris

    Factsheet

    Cicindela campestris - (family Cicindelidae) Tiger beetles are closely related to ground beetles but, unlike ground beetles, they always fly away when disturbed. They are mainly found in areas with sandy soils. The larvae live in burrows and wait for prey passing close to the mouths of their...
  • Sulphur beetle

    Comb-clawed beetle, Ctenopius sulphureus

    Factsheet

    Cteniopus sulphureus - (family Alleculidae) The very distinctive sulphur beetle is the only bright yellow beetle found in the UK. The adults live in flowers, where they feed on nectar and pollen. The species is usually only found in very dry places such as chalk or sandy grassland in the south of...
  • Acorn weevil

    Acorn weevil, Curculio glandium

    Factsheet

    Curculio glandium - (family Curculionidae) All weevils have a snout (known as a ‘rostrum') with the mouthparts at the end, and this acorn weevil has the most strongly-developed snout of all British weevils. The species spends most of its life as a white larva that hollows out the kernels of acorns...
  • Spangled water beetle

    Spangled diving beetle, Graphoderus zonatus

    Factsheet

    Graphoderus zonatus - (family Dytiscadae) Like all dytiscid diving beetles, the spangled water beetle is predatory on other aquatic animals, including tadpoles, and can swim fast with its broadened hind legs and its streamlined shape. However, Graphoderus zonatus is a protected species in Britain...
  • Lily beetle

    Lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii

    Factsheet

    Lilioceris lilii – lily beetle (family Chrysomelidae) Many chrysomelid leaf beetles are brightly coloured and metallic. One of the most striking is the bright red lily beetle. This species was only sporadically found in UK until the mid-20 th century when it became established. In recent years it...
  • Shining spider beetle

    Shining spider beetle, Mezium gibbum

    Factsheet

    Mezium gibbum – (family Ptinidae) As their common name suggests, ptinid beetles have the appearance of small spiders. The peculiar-looking Mezium gibbum has very shiny translucent wing-cases that resemble a bead of condensation. Although it is usually found indoors feeding on accumulations of dust...
  • Thick-legged flower beetle

    False oil beetle, Oedemera nobilis

    Factsheet

    Oedemera nobilis – (family Oedemeridae) This spectacular metallic-green beetle is usually seen on flowers. Only the male – seen here – has the characteristic thickened hind ‘thighs' (femora). This species is common in gardens and grassland, and in open spaces in woods, in the south, but is more...
  • Common leaf weevil

    Common leaf weevil, Phyllobius pyri

    Factsheet

    Phyllobius pyri – (family Curculionidae) The weevil family is one of the largest in the animal kingdom, with a huge number of species (there are more species of weevils in the UK than birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians combined). All weevils have a snout (known as a ‘rostrum') bearing their...
  • Stag beetle

    Stag beetle, Lucanus cervus

    Factsheet

    Lucanus cervus – (family Lucanidae) The male stag beetle – with its huge antler-like mandibles that are used in fights with other males – is the largest British land beetle. The larvae feed on decaying wood and their development takes up to five years. Due to overzealous clearance of dead wood...
  • Longhorn beetle

    Longhorn beetle, Rhagium mordax

    Factsheet

    Rhagium mordax – (family Cerambycidae) Some longhorn beetles do not have particularly long antennae – this species is one of them. Rhagium mordax is a common species in the early summer, when the adults are often seen on hawthorn and hogweed flowers. The larvae tunnel and feed in soft well-rotted...
  • Black-headed cardinal beetle

    Cardinal beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea

    Factsheet

    Pyrochroa coccinea – (family Pyrochroidae) This distinctively-coloured cardinal beetle has a somewhat flattened shape and comb-like antennae. The adults are usually found on flowers near the edges of woods. The carnivorous larvae live underneath dry bark, where they eat other insects – or each...
  • Black-tipped soldier beetle

    Common red soldier beetle, Rhagonycha fulva

    Factsheet

    Rhagonycha fulva – (family Cantharidae) This is probably the commonest British soldier beetle and the adults are found later than other species, in July and early August. It is usually seen on flowers where it feeds on nectar and pollen, but also robs and eats other flower-visiting insects: it can...
  • Rove beetle

    Rove beetle, Staphylinus erythropterus

    Factsheet

    Staphylinus erythropterus – (family Staphylinidae) Rove beetles are characterized by having greatly shortened wing-cases with their flying wings much-folded underneath. This gives them narrow flexible bodies that allow them to chase their prey rapidly through complex spaces such as densely matted...
  • Bloody-nosed beetle

    Bloody-nosed beetle, Timarcha tenebricosa

    Factsheet

    Timarcha tenebricosa – (family Chrysomelidae) Unlike the majority of chrysomelid beetles, which are brightly coloured, often with a metallic shine, the adult bloody-nosed beetle is black. It is slow-moving and feeds on bedstraw plants. Its distinctive feature is its defensive reaction of producing...
  • Minotaur beetle

    Minotaur beetle, Typhaeus typhoeus

    Factsheet

    Typhaeus typhoeus – (family Scarabaeidae) The minotaur beetle is a spectacular dung beetle of heaths, moorlands and mountains, especially in the north and west of the British Isles. The males use the long prongs on the thorax (as seen here) to compete for females. Large males have relatively even...

Did you know?

Best camouflaged

Cramp-ball weevils look like bird poo, moths pretend to be lichen, caterpillars disguise as twigs with last year’s bud scars…

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