Devil's Coach Horse

Slinky black 6-legged bug
Location:  Portland, Oregon
September 22, 2010 5:35 am
Oh, Bugman,
I just discovered this site and I fervently want to know ”What is this bug?” It appeared in my kitchen yesterday, and I’ve never seen one like it in my life.
I’m not normally too bug-phobic, but this bug is so unusually slinky for a beetle-type bug, it just creeps me out. I’m truly tempted to bug carnage, but no. I guess I will release it, at least 10 blocks away…
Anyway, it’s solid and kind of velvety black, 6 legs, 1.25 inches long, with antennae. It looks mostly like a beetle, but it’s arched between the head and thorax, and the abdomen has two parts: rigid where it joins the thorax and then at the end very flexible — even slinky. So slinky, it’s just creepy!
I would love to learn what it is, if you can help. It was hard to get a good photo; hope these give you an idea.
Signature:  Kelly

Devil's Coach Horse

Kelly Self-Identifies Devil’s Coach Horse
Aha, Devils Coach Horse!
September 22, 2010 5:56 am
I just decided to click on each type of beetle, and found an exact match — interestingly from Troutdale, OR, from a month ago. I wonder if the DCHs just made it to Oregon, ’cause I have sure never seen one before.
I didn’t see the scorpion-like effect, but the name is apt. This bug has bad vibes. However, if it eats slugs and snails, I will not take it 10 blocks away — I will release it in my vegetable garden post haste!
Love, love, love your site!
Signature: Kelly

Dear Kelly,
We are happy to hear that you quickly self identified your Devil’s Coach Horse,
Ocypus olens, using our archive, and we are also happy to hear that you have considered getting along with this introduced species provided it stays in your garden and not your home.  Since the Devil’s Coach Horse was introduced to North America around 1930, we are not certain of the extent of its range, but BugGuide’s database indicates it is established in Oregon and California.  BugGuide does report three members in the genus, which expands the range even more, but we are not certain how to tell the species apart as they look so similar.

I should have clarified that my Ocypus olens was actually 5-legged, and the posted image shows the 2-leg side.
A happy ending (but not for the slugs): I released the Devil’s Coach Horse into the garden this morning, and she/he immediately ran for cover under a leaf. As another reader reported, this bug does seem light-averse. As skeeved out as I was at first by it, after living with it (safely contained) for a couple days, I found that familiarity bred tolerance. Just before I released it, I showed it to a friend who was as revolted as I had been initially. But I felt… almost… fondness?
I will check out your book. BTW, thanks to you I will never again crush a house centipede.

Photo of author


BugMan aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

20 thoughts on “Devil's Coach Horse”

  1. Hi everyone my name is Sarah and those little bugs are called devils horse coach, they are not harmful and they will bite if cornered but they are very beniful to thé soil, they also eat snails and slugs and spiders.

  2. Just saw a Devil’s Coach Horse in a classroom at Reed College! Creepy, it raised its tail like a scorpion at slight movement in its direction. Scuttled away quickly to not sure where. Read on wikipedia that they can have a very painful bite, not so nice indoors.

  3. I just came online to try and discover what this odd bug was. It was scurrying along the carpet and I wouldn’t have seen it, if not for my cat’s stare. When I poked at it, it stopped and raised it’s abdomen and tail just like a scorpion, and froze. Very creepy. I’ve never seen a bug like this is my 30 years living north of Boston. I was working in the garden for the 1st time this spring and perhaps carried him inside, along with a deer tic. The Devil’s Coach I found is 15mm and jet black.

  4. I live in Cheyenne, Wy and found one of these crawling in my hair, in the wee hours of the morning. Wasn’t sure what it was then, finally, brushed it out with my fingers. It fell on my pillow. Talk about creeped out! My cat didn’t even want it! After reading some information I know why, if they emit a stench, I wouldn’t want it either. Unfortunately, for this one it did not make it. Killed and down the drain it went. I know better next time… just like the assassin beetles, I will let them go now. Thanks for the identifier, it was a big help.

  5. Just found one of these in my dining room. Think this is the second one I have seen in Newberg, Oregon. Will release it to the slugs I suppose. Sure looks creepy. And the name doesn’t help much! I did take a photo but not sure how to post it here.

  6. Thanks to your website & this posting here I was able to identify a devils coach horse beetle I found this morning on my patio in oregon. His tail was curled upward & freaked me out as I thought it was some sort of mutated and disabled scorpion. Ha! I put a glass over him to look closer at him. He put his front feet on the glass to look back at me And I felt bad for him. Knowing what he is now I’ll release him in the forest behind my house. He’s creepy but interesting.

    • Just found a teeny tiny one crawling on me outside. It was dark just and had its tail raised just like the adult one I found in my kithen earlier this week. It was smaller than a jimmie sprinkle. Btw I live in Ohio and didn’t k ow what this was utility I got on this site. Thx

  7. Oh my GAWD… Just found one of these in my basement apartment in SE Portland lastnight. Was in the middle of a workout ritual, dancing in front of the mirror. Deep, 90 minutes into this, when I looked down and saw it. Put a heavy glass over it. Boy that ruined my vibe and ended my session, I’ll tell you. NEVER. EVER in my 36 years of life born and raised in Oregon have I seen this demonic looking thing!! I’m too scared to kill it.
    Took it to a friend’s this morning and she took it out back and did the deed for me. Sorry.. I didn’t really wanna kill it, but this thing is legitimately terrifying.

  8. It never once raised its tail like a scorpion ? but it did “play ? dead” a few times. Ugh ? I hate killing stuff. I can’t anyways because the popping sounds freaks me out too much. But dude. I had to take it to someone. This thing scared me and bugs don’t freak me out. But this thing legit terrified me. I do feel bad killing it. Should’ve just let it go. But I had to show everyone this crazy thing!!! I’m moving. Never again will I live in a basement apartment. Ever.. too much. I see giant house spiders ? daily, too. Can’t do it.

  9. Just saw one in Dexter Oregon. Yes, it creeped me out also. Thinking it was a type of scorpion with my old eyes I immediately swatted it. Had I known it was a harmless slug snail eater I would have moved it to my garden. Thank you for this site.

  10. i have lots of them outside in Marcola, OR , and was wondering how they come to be?
    I just found the weirdest looking cacoon ! pretty big and doent look like a butterfly cacoon. it somewhat resembles a feather! Tan in color and with wispy ridges. anyway, it got me to wondering…

  11. Found one in Gresham, Oregon but I can’t kill so I took video and pictures. I found it in my bathroom at 2am. It is black, runs from light and has such a slinky, creepy vibe. But there are tons of slugs here and the little guy must have wondered into my bathroom while looking for dinner. He disappeared into the crack of the cabinet after I chased him around with my camera light. I was SO freaked out! Never, in 16 years in Oregon (which has slugs and snails EVERYWHERE) have I seen anything like this before. How do I post a picture?

  12. I found one early this morning about 2am in my bathroom…I almost stepped on it! Then I spent the next hour googling and trying to figure out what the heck it was. I’m in Tacoma, WA.

  13. Found one this week in our kitchen. Freaky at first. No smell. Caged him to make sure he wasn’t an invasive, harmful species. Then found another live one on the back patio and a dead beetle nearby. Lived here in Redmond, WA for 25 years and never saw one. Fed him fruit until we learned what he was and his carnivorous diet. Provided him a slug but not much interest. He prefers our fruit slices from the yard. Thankful he will help in the garden. Time to release him.


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