Because there are so many species of beetles, the beetle diet can vary greatly. Learn more about what beetles eat.
The typical beetle diet is anything but standard, meaning the answer to "what do beetles eat" is a bit long-winded. Why? Because there are more than 300,000 identified species of beetles, with possibly millions more out there waiting to be discovered by entomologists. And since each species has its own unique tastes, their food sources can essentially be described in one word: everything.
Beetle diet breakdown
The easiest way to answer a question like "what do beetles eat" is to break it down into smaller subcategories of species by diet type.
- Most beetles are herbivores, eating only plants. This includes roots, stems, leaves, seeds, nectar, fruits or even the wood of the plant itself. This subcategory includes weevils, leaf beetles and some species of Longhorned beetles.
- There are also a lot of beetles that are predators, including most species of ground beetle. Prey includes fly maggots, earthworms, snails, grubs, slugs and even other species of beetles. Hunting methods vary. The tiger beetle runs quickly to grab prey in their enormous mandibles, while lightning bugs and soldier beetles pick aphids and caterpillars off of leaves, something that helps your garden.
- Beetles species that are saprophagous feed on dead organic matter, be it plant or animal. This subcategory includes the dung beetle, which feeds on animal waste, and the hide beetle, which scavenges for dead carrion, burying and using the meat as a food source for their larvae.
- Wood boring beetles, that include powder post beetles and Longhorned beetles, can cause large amounts of damage to homes. They can feed on structural wood, decorative wood pieces and furniture. They are also sometimes found in newly constructed homes.
- Other subcategories include beetles that feed on fungus, such as the mildew beetle, and beetles that eat crustaceans, such as the whirligig beetle. Some beetles are parasitic and eat beetle larvae, while other beetles feast on fabrics and textiles, such as the carpet beetle.
What the beetle diet tells us
Recent theories proposed by the University of Berkeley claim that there might be so many different species of beetles because of what they choose to eat. For example, if one species of beetle is eating a particular flower, it might become scarce as the population grows. Half of that species might start to eat another flower. The group that switches might evolve to become another species.
It's easy to see why entomologists are excited about beetles and their diets, but Terminix® understands that you aren't as thrilled when you find out the beetle diet includes just about everything in and around your home - your house included. Call for your free pest estimate and tell beetles that the buffet is closed.