How to Tell if it’s a Beetle

Simple tips for beetle identification

Beetles belong to the largest order of insects in the world, Coleoptera. Identifying beetles can be difficult considering that they are found in a number of different shapes, sizes and colors. You might not be able to determine the particular species of one beetle versus another without the help of a pest management professional or entomologist, but here are a few things to look for when you are working on beetle identification.

How many legs and body parts does it have?

All pests that are considered “true insects” have three body regions: the head, abdomen and thorax. Insects also have six legs. If the pest you’re trying to identify has less than three body parts and more than six legs, it’s not a beetle.

What do the wings look like?

Look closely at the wings and wing covers. Beetles have two pairs of wings. The elytra, or forewings, are hard and shell-like, while the second pair is folded underneath. If you step on a beetle, you’ll feel or hear a definitive “crunch.”

Was it crawling or flying?

All types of beetles have wings, but over time, the wings of many species adapted into a protective outer covering for the insects. This means that it is nearly impossible for most beetles to fly. There are a few species that can fly, but the number is minimal.

Can you see the mouthparts?

If you flip over your specimen you should be able to see the mouthparts. Beetles have chewing mouthparts similar to those of a grasshopper. Some beetles have mandibles or pincers that they use for capturing and killing their prey or for defense against predators.

Obviously, you may not be able to see some of these features without proper magnification, which can make it hard for proper beetle identification in smaller specimens. Some species, however, are very large, which can simplify the task of identifying beetles. Make the task even easier – for a positive identification of beetles and other pests in and around your home, call Terminix® for a free pest estimate.