Ground Beetle — Facts, Information
Ground Beetles are a type of beetle that belong to the Carabidae family. The Carabidae beetles have more than 20,000 species worldwide and 2200 residing in North America alone; most carnivorous ground beetles can run quickly after their prey with some variation in body shape or colouring (some shiny black while others metallic). Ground Beetle’s genus ‘Brachinus’ is commonly known as ‘Bombardier Beetles’ which take defensive measures by mixing chemicals for an explosion-like spray if they feel threatened.
Unlike many other species of Carabidae, Tiger Beetles are active during the day and have a groove on their front tibiae bearing teeth that they use to clean themselves. They often live under tree bark, under logs or rocks by water’s edge near ponds and rivers.
Ground beetles of the species «Promecognathus laevissimus» are like ninjas in disguise. They prey on millipedes, a creature which is known to release deadly hydrogen cyanide when threatened. The ground beetle somehow bypasses this defence mechanism by using their special camouflage skills and stealthily approaches it’s unsuspecting victim from below!
Violin Beetles are carnivorous and use their elongated heads to search crevices for small larvae. Their larvae have been found living in tunnels in the large bracket fungi that are common in the humid forests of Malaysia, Violin beetles have a very flat or depressed body form which allows them more space below ground where they can move freely across soil cracks, subcortical spaces between oppressed leaf sheaths.
The violin beetle is so named because of its shape which resembles that of a musical instrument. The beetles are 10 centimeters (4 inches) long and have large, flat expansions on each side to cover their wings called elytra. To get rid of these pests the most effective way is by spraying repellent cypermethrin around doorways or windows where they might be entering your house. This insecticide doesn’t harm humans nor pets but ground beetles hate it with passion!
Habits and Traits Ground Beetles, Family Carabidae
When you come across a rock or log, find the dark shiny beetles running for cover. These diverse predators are among the top 10 beneficial garden insects and help to kill some of our worst pests. Even if they’re hidden during daylight hours, at night these Carabids hunt and feed on your devastating garden invaders!
Like all beetles, Carabids undergo complete metamorphosis with four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The entire cycle, from egg to reaching reproductivity, takes a full year in most species.
Ground beetles usually lay their eggs on the surface of the soil or cover their eggs with soil. In general, eggs take up to a week to hatch. Larvae go through 2-4 instars before reaching the pupal stage.
Ground beetles which breed in the spring typically overwinter as adults. Carabids that breed during the summer months tend to overwinter as larvae, then finish their development to adults in the spring.
If you’ve ever seen a rove beetle, looking like it lost half its wings or soldier beetles in their leathery jackets; if you have spotted tiger beetles dressed in iridescent finery or caterpillar hunters sporting racing colors, this group of beetles may appear to dress like dandies but they’re worth their weight in gold when weeding your garden. General predators of any insect that can catch them and often seen cruising about plants with an occasional dash across the ground as swiftly as possible catching hapless meals — these medium-to-large insects are active day and night while eating up to one body’s weight daily.
Garden Allies: Predaceous Ground Beetles
Frederique Lavoipierre is Director of Education at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden. She also teaches classes and workshops on sustainable…
Conservation biological control, which emphasizes habitat enhancement and selective pesticides use over broad-spectrum poisonings is not only good for the environment but it makes your garden look beautiful. You can have a lush green paradise without harming all of those innocent lifeforms that may be doing more work than you think!
Forget about flowers. They only attract pollinators and beneficial insects such as lady beetles, lacewings, etc., not natural enemies who require a habitat strategy of their own! Most common predaceous ground beetle species are true carnivores hunting caterpillars like you would find in your garden, or spiders scurrying across the lawn at night; however they’re dark colored so you might miss them if it’s too bright out to see anything else but blackness — that is until they start climbing plants looking for food (which often includes snails).
Beetle banks provide important habitat for various beetles, spiders and other beneficial insects. These beetle bumps are composed of perennial bunch grasses and flowering plants that create a raised area between rows in fields or gardens to help the ground dwellers stay dry when it’s cold out while keeping plant cover even so temperatures don’t fluctuate too much. Leaf mulch also provides shelter for many different species within these areas bringing together all sorts of biodiversity!
A cowardly beetle, the ground beetle is a terror to nocturnal pests. With streamlined bodies and long legs for running swiftly on prey, these beetles are agile hunters who can be seen at dusk streaking across lawns in search of victims. Yet others have been known even as high up as trees; hunting snails with their narrow heads and thoraxes suited especially well for reaching into snail shells!
Other interesting species of ground beetles are more often encountered in the wild than in gardens. When threatened, bombardier beetles aim and forcefully eject a stream of boiling liquid that vaporizes with an audible “pop” as it contacts air. Many carabids share this ability to repel enemies by releasing noxious fluids but none can compare to the spectacular show displayed by these impressive insects!
The Delta green ground beetle is among the most endangered bugs in America, but it can be seen with a little exploration. The perfect place to spot this bug would have vernal pools on Jepson Prairie Preserve and certain sandy riverbanks or arid areas.
Though not always carnivorous, ground beetles are named as such due to their instinctual predatory nature. I first learned this when a seed-eating one scurried about in my garden at dusk. The copper carabid was small and quick but agile enough that it could escape the light of my flashlight with ease. Though they don’t cause any harm for me—aside from entertainment!—I am grateful to know these creatures exist so close by!
In a Nutshell
Popular Name: Ground beetles, predaceous ground beetle, carabids.
Scientific Name: Order Coleoptera, Family Carabidae.
Common Garden Species: Snail eater (Scaphinotus spp), seed eating ground beetle (Amara spp), rufous carabid (Calathus ruficollis). Many other genera, such as Calosoma and Pterostichus include common species of ground beetles.
Distribution: Over 40,000 species world-wide; over 2,000 species in the USA, and over 800 in California alone.
Life Cycle: Holometabolous (complete metamorphosis): egg, grub, pupa, and adult.
Larvae have three instars (molt their exoskeleton three times) before entering the pupal stage.
Beetles are small, forewing-less insects with chewing mouthparts that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Carabids can have exceptionally long head and thorax lengths, but they’re usually dark colored or blackish brown. Some carabus beetles may be iridescent green or purple shades — though these types rarely reside in gardens.
Larvae have 10 abdominal segments and large heads with visible mandibles; the abdomen tapers to two cerci (terminal sensory appendages). Carabids have long legs and can run fast; a good field characteristic to distinguish them from the often similar appearing darkling beetles (Tenebrionidae). Herbivorous darkling beetles are slower moving and rounder; they also have antennae that are enlarged at the ends, while ground beetles have thread-like antennae.
Diet: The carabid beetle is a morphing creature with the ability to be both predator and scavenger. They search for food in soil, leaf litter, or even trees; eating insects as grubs and hunting them down when they transform into adults.
Life Span: Nature is full of surprises. From the humble beetle grub that may take a year to develop, all the way up to adulthood which can span 2-3 years in some species, their life spans vary greatly with many factors playing into it including natural predators and competition for food sources among other things!
Favorite Plants: Carabids, the most plentiful and varied group of ground beetles in North America, often live near perennial bunch grasses or low-growing plants like cilantro. These nocturnal predators eat other insects including spiders that have found their way to your flowerbeds during rainstorms!
Benefits: Carabid beetles are creatures of many talents. They’re voracious insect-eaters, they may provide significant biological control for your garden and it doesn’t stop there! Carabids also do a great job of controlling weed species by eating their seeds as they mature.
Problems: The vast majority of insects are herbivores, which means that they feed on plants. A few species may eat seeds in their larval stage while others will forage and feast on roots as adults.
Interesting Facts: Bombardier beetles are the most well-known carabids for their defense mechanism. They have two reactive chemicals stored in different chambers of its body that, when mixed together and released through a «pop» by pressing down on them with an audible sound produced from the beetle’s abdomen, can produce hot gas to ward off predators.