While they certainly can create a headache for homeowners, there are tons of facts about beetles that you’ll still find interesting. For instance, did you know that about 40 percent of all insects belong to the Coleoptera order, better known as beetles? That means that one-fourth of all animal species on this planet are beetles.
In fact, even if you threw plants into the mix, one in every five species of living organisms on Earth are beetles. That’s a staggering number. Here are some more beetle facts that you may find astonishing.
General facts about beetles
The name Coleoptera comes from koleos and pteron, two Greek words meaning sheath and wing, respectively. Beetles do have a pair of armored ‟sheathed wings” that protect the second, rear pair of wings, which allow beetles to fly.
Coleoptera is the largest order in the animal kingdom, with more than 300,000 species identified. There are countless species of beetles still to be discovered, maybe as many as millions.
Not only are there many different types of beetles, they are spread out all over the world. Beetles live just about everywhere, except for polar regions and oceans (they are found in freshwater bodies, though). With so many species left to be discovered, who knows where scientists and entomologists will find them next?
All adult beetles chew their food thoroughly. This isn’t the case for most insects, many of whom use straw-like proboscises to slurp their food up. Beetles have special mandibulate mouthparts, which can be used to chew anything from plants to other insects, and even dead mammals. In fact, the word ‟beetle” is thought to come from bitela, which is Old English for little biter.
Fossils of the first organisms to resemble beetles date back 270 million years. The beetles that roam the Earth today – or ‟true beetles” – made their appearance on the Earth around 230 million years ago. This means beetles survived whatever killed the dinosaurs, thanks to their incredible adaptive abilities.
Facts about beetles by species
The aquatic Whirligig beetle has eyes that are divided into two pairs. One pair sees below the surface of the water while the other monitors above, with both sets keeping a ‟watchful eye” for prey and predators.
If you hear a loud knocking noise coming from a log or fallen tree, it might be the deathwatch beetle, banging its head against the tunnels they’ve created.
A pair of oval organs on the thorax and one on the abdomen permit the tropical click beetle to produce light. Their eggs and larvae are luminous as well, glowing at night on the outer layers of termite mounds where they live, helping to attract prey for food.
The American burying beetle allows tiny mites to hitch a ride on its back. The mites prevent fly eggs and microbes from gathering on the beetle or the carrion meals the burying beetle scavenges.
One group of aquatic beetles uses a special spine on their tails to pierce underwater plants, giving them access to oxygen while remaining submerged.
Dung beetles eat animal waste, playing a critical role in the food chain. They speed up the recirculation of nutrients back into the soil or into other animals that eat them, who are then eaten by bigger animals (e.g., humans). Ancient Egyptians held the scarab, a type of dung beetle, sacred.
Fun beetle trivia
Did you know that humans eat over 300 species of beetles, mostly at the larval stage? Beetles are eaten by humans more than any other insect.
Did you know that a tree planted in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park to commemorate the late, great Beatle, guitarist George Harrison, was overrun and destroyed by beetles? Bark beetles and ladybugs to be exact.
If beetles are a problem in your home or garden, the only fact about beetles you need to remember is that one call to Terminix® will help you get rid of them.