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Beetle Facts

Scientists estimate there are 3 million kinds of beetles on Earth.

They can be found almost anywhere on Earth, including the poles. They live in freshwater and terrestrial habitats.

They have hardened forewings that protect their delicate flight wings and abdomen underneath. They hold their protective wing covers out to the sides when flying.

They range in size from less than 1 millimeter long to over 100 grams. The longest known beetle is 20 centimeters long.

Beetle Facts for Kids

  • Beetles have two sets of wings.
  • Female beetles can lay hundreds of eggs.
  • Beetles live about a year.
  • Beetles have poor vision
  • Their communication is based on pheromones, vibrations, and sounds.
  • Not all beetles are pests. 
  • North America has more than 12,000 types of beetles.

Beetle Bodies

Beetles have a head, a thorax (the middle part), and an abdomen (the back part). They have no internal bones and instead have a hard exoskeleton made of chitin.

Wings

The hard front wings of the beetle hide the back wings, which are used for flying. Some beetles have no wings at all, while some have hard front wings and hardback wings.

Legs

Beetle legs have two to five small segments called tarsi and a claw on the end. Some beetles have flat legs with long hairs on them, while others have flat legs with spines or horns at the edges.

Sight and smell

Beetles have compound eyes, which are actually made out of many smaller parts. Some beetles have extra simple eyes called ocelli.

Facts for Kids
Facts for Kids

Beetles have antennae that are thin and long and also wide on the end.

The mouth

Beetles have two hard mandibles and four fingers around their mouth. The fingers push food into the mouth.

How do they Protect Themselves

Some beetles live in tunnels inside tree branches, and some have colors that make them hard to find. These beetles use camouflage and warning coloration, and sometimes they even behave like bees to confuse predators.

They have a wide range of chemical defenses, mostly got from plants their larvae eat. These chemicals make beetles taste bad to predators, and they use warning colors to avoid being eaten.

What do they eat

They eat plants, small animals, fungi, and animal fibers. Some species are pests in gardens and crops, but some may also benefit human beings by killing dangerous insects.

How fast can beetles move

The dung beetle, the Japanese beetle, and the carpet beetle are long-legged predatory insects that can run even faster than 5 mph (8 kph).

How big are beetles

The largest adult beetles, such as bark beetles, grow up to 4.3 in (11 cm) tall, and some can grow up to  1.5-2.3 in (4-6 cm) long.

Some Beetles Glow in the Dark

Certain beetle families produce light through a chemical reaction involving an enzyme called luciferase. Fireflies flash signals to attract potential mates, and glowworms have light organs on their thoracic and abdominal segments.

Where can you find beetles?

Beetles are the most common type of bug in the world. They can be found almost anywhere but are not found in saltwater or polar climates.