Zoology

Common Varieties of Beetles Found in the UK



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Common beetles that can be found in Great Britain:

Bee-eating beetle – Trichodes apiaries

These beetles live in warm places and measure 9-15 mm in length. Adult beetle look for other insects to eat, by searching flowers. They are seen from May to July. Larvae develop in the nests of solitary bees and then eat the bee’s larvae or pupae.

Bloody-nosed beetle – Timarcha tenebricosa

The bloody-nosed beetle will use a curious defence mechanism known as “reflex bleeding”. If it is threatened it will release a drop of red fluid from its mouth and body joint. The fluid is a mixture of blood and a bitter tasting chemical which acts as a deterrent to predators.

Click Beetle – Agriotes lineatus

Click beetles are also known as skipjacks and their larvae are sometimes called wireworms. The beetles have the ability to leap in the air to if they are in danger. This action is marked by a clicking sound which gives them their name.

They can be found in long grass, gardens, meadows and lawns. When disturbed they will drop to the ground and feign death and then when danger is imminent they will jump about a foot into the air at a speed measured at 2.5 m per second. Sometimes they may somersault several times to land the right way up.

Common cockchafer or May-bug – Melolontha melolontha

This beetle will fly in the evening and measure 20-30mm. You may notice it from the loud, almost angry buzzing noise that it will make in a lighted room in the early summer. Once inside it will fly around clumsily colliding with things in the room.

Colorado beetle – Leptinotarsa decemlineata

This is a regulated pest for the EU and the Republic of Ireland and can be found all over Europe and is a pest of potato crops. It measures approximately 10mm long and has a bright yellow/orange body with five bold stripes running down its elytra. The female hibernates in deep soil and in the spring gnaws at the germinating potatoes.

Death watch – Anobium pertinax

It measures 5 -7 mm and can be found in wood, timber of houses and old furniture where it devours tunnels. It will bang its head on the wall of the tunnel to attract female of the species. The sound of the death watch beetle has long been believed to portend death. The female will lay her eggs in the tunnel opening. It is known as a pest because their tunnels can destroy a piece of timber over time and render it useless. If found, and handled this insect will play dead.

Devil’s coach horse – Staphylinus olens

In Irish mythology it was believed that this beetle is the symbol of corruption and was able to kill simply on sight. People believed that the Devil’s coach horse would appear after making a deal with the devil, and when you saw it raising its tail it is casting a curse.

It eats small spiders and beetles smaller than itself and will scavenge dead animals. It mostly hunts by night but is sometimes seen during the day. It is preyed upon by robins, blackbirds and thrushes who search for it beneath litter or under logs. It can defend itself by squirting nauseous smelling chemicals from the glands located near its anus, whilst vigorously snapping its jaws.

Dor beetle – Geotrupes stercorarius

The Dor beetle is a member of the group known as dung beetles. These beetles help to recycle the droppings of animals ranging from rabbits to horses. Different beetles will eat different types of dung. The Dor beetle will bury balls of cow and horse dung deep into their burrow to feed their emerging larvae.

Granary weevil – Calandra granaria

These are the most dreaded of the grain pest and measure 3 – 4mm in length. The beetle is flightless and spread only by carrying. They live in badly ventilated granaries. Female will lay her eggs on grains of wheat and rye.

Green tiger beetle

This colourful beetle one of the fastest running of the British insects. When in pursuit of its prey, it can cover distances of 60cm a second. It is most easily seen on really hot days and can be seen across sandy heaths or coastal dunes.

The Tiger beetles get their name from the large powerful jaws that overlap when not being used. The larvae are particularly predatory and will live in a vertical shaft about 30cm deep. It wedges itself in the entrance and holds its jaws level with the surface of the ground. When an insect walks over the hole, the jaws snap shut, and drag the unfortunate victim to the bottom of the shaft to be eaten.

Ladybird – Coccinellidae septempunctata

The ladybird or lady bug, measures 5-8mm in length. It is found all over the UK. It’s staple diet is plant-lice. Over her lifetime the female will lay over 700 eggs in piles, near plant-lice. The larvae are the delight of gardeners because they eat aphids.

Oil beetle or May-worm – Meloe procarabaeus

Can be found widely distributed throughout the UK. It measures 12mm -35mm in length. The female has a large abdomen. It is wingless with short wing sheaths. It appears in the grass in early spring. Females lay their eggs in small pits. The hatched larvae will grasp onto different types of bee with their claw-like legs and travel to their hosts nest,  where they will devour egg and food stores.

Poplar leaf beetle – Melasoma populi

Inhabits the whole of Europe and measures 6-12mm in length. It is found mainly on poplars but will also frequent willows too. Adult beetles and larvae will nibble at the leaves until all there is left is just the skeleton. The larvae have the ability to emit a pungent fluid from special warts as a warning to predators.

European rhinoceros beetle – Oryctes nasicornis

These nocturnal insects measure 25-40mm in length and is very common throughout Europe. The larvae develop in the rotting stumps and trunks of deciduous trees, mainly oaks and birches, but can also be found in compost heaps. Larvae are very fat with distended abdomens and large, hard heads and huge mandibles.

Rose chafer – Cetonia aurata

Rose chafer beetles measure 20mm long. They are an extremely attractive beetle that flies from May to August. They can be found on the petals of large flowers, particularly roses, on which they feed.

Rosemary leaf beetle – Chrysolina Americana

This beetle measures approximately 8mm long and can be found in parts of Scotland, Wales and especially in southern England. Can be found during May to October in gardens, allotments and parks. They live on Rosemary, Thyme and other herbs. These beetles have a striking metallic green body with red and blue stripes running up the body.

Soldier beetle – Cantharis Fusca

These beetles are so names because their brown or black wing cases and red or black thoraxes which resemble the uniforms of 19th century military uniforms. Length 12mm. Appear from spring to summer on plants, bushes and the ground. The larvae have hairy mandibles and are predatory in nature and live under vegetation feeding on small insects and snails.

Stag beetle Lucanus cervus

This impressive beetle can measure from 37mm – 75mm (males) and 30mm - 45mm (females) and can be found in oak woods and mixed forest. Females lay their eggs in rotting tree stumps and trunks.

Violet ground beetle – Carabus violaceus

Ground beetles are fast-moving hunters of the night and use their powerful jaws to grasp and crush small creatures including many other types of insects. They measure 25 -35mm and can be first seen in June and July near human dwellings such as sheds, cellars etc. They are able to eject an acrid fluid if handled or it feels threatened.

Wasp beetle – Clytus arietis

This striking beetle belongs to the family known as longhorn beetles because of their long antennae. It has black and yellow wasp-like markings and feeds on the nectar and pollen of flowers with quick, jerky movements, flying from flower to flower.

Wasp beetles can be found in or around woodland where females search out dead or decaying timber where they will lay their eggs. The larvae take two years to mature, and then the pupae are formed within cells inside the wood. Birds love to dig out the juicy larvae, pupae and the parasitic wasps which bore into the wood to lay their eggs inside the beetle larvae.

Woodworm beetle – Anobium punctatum

This is a wood boring beetle and has earned the dislike and fear of many a house owner or antiques dealer.  Its larvae will feed upon wood and create long tunnels as it feeds. Adults measure 2.7 – 4.5mm in length and have brown ellipsoidal bodies with a snout that resembles a monk’s cowl.

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