Do Beetles Bite? Uncovering the Truth About These Insects

Beetles are a diverse group of insects that can be found in various ecosystems around the world.

While some beetles are harmless, others are known to bite or cause harm to humans when handled.

It’s important to be aware of the types of beetles you might encounter and whether they pose any risk.

Do Beetles Bite
Rove Beetle

Predatory beetles, such as rove beetles and soldier beetles, are among the types that may bite if mishandled.

Additionally, certain long-horned beetles, like the old house borer, can cause structural damage to homes during their larval stage, although they may not directly bite humans.

Remember, not all beetles pose a threat, and many contribute positively to their ecosystems.

For example, the six-spotted tiger beetle is a ground-dwelling beetle that helps control other harmful insects.

It’s essential to understand the different species you might encounter and practice caution when handling them.

Do Beetles Bite?

Beetle Bites on Humans

Beetles are a diverse group of insects, with about 30,000 species in the U.S. and Canada alone.

While many beetle species likes bess beetles and ladybugs are harmless and do not bite humans, some species can cause pain or irritation if they feel threatened.

For instance, ground-dwelling beetles like tiger beetles and ground beetles may bite when handled. These bites can be painful, but the beetles are not venomous and the pain typically subsides quickly.

Here are some quick facts about beetle bites:

  • Majority of beetles do not bite humans
  • Painful bites may occur when certain species feel threatened
  • Bites are not venomous and typically do not cause any major health issues

In comparison, some common beetles that do not bite include ladybugs and long-horned beetles, such as the old house borer.

Comparison table:

Beetle SpeciesBite HumansVenomous
Tiger BeetlesYesNo
Ground BeetlesYesNo
LadybugsNoN/A
Long-horned Beetles (e.g., old house borer)NoN/A

In conclusion, while some beetle species may bite humans, the majority do not. Bites can be painful but are not venomous or harmful in most cases.

Types of Biting Beetles

Blister Beetles

Blister beetles, belonging to the Meloidae family within the Coleoptera order, get their name from their defensive secretion called cantharidin.

This substance, when in contact with skin, may cause blistering.

Although these insects aren’t naturally aggressive, they can bite when threatened or mishandled.

  • Color: Many species are brightly colored, often in red or yellow.
  • Bite Effects: Blisters, skin irritation, and in rare cases, severe reactions.

Examples of blister beetles include the striped blister beetle and the Spanish fly. Handling them with care is crucial to avoid adverse effects.

Blister Beetle: Lytta cribrata

Stag Beetles

Stag beetles, also part of the Coleoptera order, are known for their enlarged and often impressive mandibles.

Males use these for fighting other males and securing mates. While they may appear intimidating, stag beetles are generally harmless to humans. However, if provoked or mishandled, they may bite.

  • Color: Typically brown or black, with some species displaying red accents.
  • Bite Effects: Painful but usually non-harmful pinch, with no lasting damage.

Examples of stag beetles include the antlered American stag beetle and the Eastern stag beetle. It is essential to remember that they are more afraid of you than you should be of them.

Beetle TypeBite EffectsExample
Blister BeetlesBlisters, skin irritationStriped Blister Beetle
Stag BeetlesPainful pinch, no lasting damageAntlered American Stag Beetle

stag beetle
Cottonwood Stag Beetle

Symptoms and Reactions to Beetle Bites

Skin Reactions

Beetle bites can cause various skin reactions, ranging from mild to severe.

Some people may experience redness, itching, or discomfort at the bite site. In other cases, more severe reactions can occur, such as welts, blisters, or burning sensations.

For example, blister beetles release a toxic substance called cantharidin that causes blister beetle dermatitis.

To summarize:

  • Redness and itchiness
  • Welts, blisters, or burning sensations
  • Blister beetle dermatitis

Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to beetle bites, which can vary in severity.

Mild allergic reactions may include localized swelling, itching, or redness, while more severe reactions could involve difficulty breathing, chest pain, or intense pain at the bite site.

In rare cases, life-threatening anaphylactic reactions can occur.

Skin ReactionsAllergic Reactions
RednessSwelling
ItchingItching
Welts or blistersRedness
Burning sensationsBreathing difficulties
Blister dermatitisChest pain
 Anaphylaxis

It’s important to note that not all beetles bite, and many of them are harmless.

However, it’s still essential to be aware of the potential symptoms and reactions to be better prepared in case of a bite.

Keep in mind that the severity of a reaction can vary depending on the type of beetle and each individual’s sensitivity.

Black Blister Beetle

Preventing and Treating Beetle Bites

Preventing Beetle Infestations

To prevent beetles from infesting your home and garden, consider these tips:

  • Keep plants healthy: A strong defense system keeps pests at bay.
  • Keep it clean: Remove debris, dead leaves, and branches to eliminate hiding spots.
  • Use natural predators: Introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs or parasitic wasps.
  • Use traps: Pheromone traps are helpful in controlling pests like Japanese beetles.

For example, to protect your trees from wood-boring beetles, ensure they are properly cared for and avoid injuring the bark.

MethodProsCons
Healthy plantsStrengthen defense mechanismRegular maintenance required
CleanlinessReduces hiding spotsConstant vigilance needed
Natural predatorsEnvironmentally friendlyCan introduce new problems
TrapsEffective in reducing infestationsMay require frequent checks

Treating Beetle Bites

Most beetles do not bite or possess poison. However, if bitten, follow these steps:

  • Clean the area: Use soap and water to reduce infection risk.
  • Apply ice: To minimize swelling and pain, use an ice pack.

When bitten by a scarab beetle, remember that the pain is not from the mouthparts but from their strong hold with their antennae.

In case of an allergic reaction or signs of infection, consult a doctor as antibiotics might be necessary.

Remember to consult a professional exterminator when infestations are severe, and use caution to protect pets from potential toxic substances.

Conclusion

Beetles, a diverse group of insects, are often misunderstood. While many beetles are harmless, some can bite or cause discomfort when mishandled.

Predatory beetles like rove beetles and soldier beetles might bite if provoked.

However, the majority of beetles are not harmful to humans. For instance, ground-dwelling beetles such as tiger beetles may bite, but their bites are not venomous and usually cause minimal discomfort.

It’s essential to recognize the different beetle species and exercise caution when handling them.

Always remember, not all beetles pose a threat, and many play beneficial roles in our ecosystems.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about beetles. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – False Blister Beetle from Florida Keys

Subject: Big pine key FL- sudden preponderance ofโ€ฆ?
Location: Big Pine Key FL
May 14, 2016 8:05 am
About a week and a half ago these guys started appearing in our house in the keys.. They are very attracted to light and their numbers increase at night. Is it a long horned something? They have a little yellow near head but are otherwise black- see picture. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
Signature: Yara Mojena

Unknown Longhorned Borer Beetle
False Blister Beetle

Dear Yara,
We concur that this is a Longhorned Borer Beetle in the family Cerambycidae, but we are having trouble providing you with a species name.  We will contact Eric Eaton and Arthur Evans to see if either can identify your Longicorn to the species level.

Correction Courtesy of Arthur Evans
This is a false blister beetle (Oedemeridae), Oxycopis thoracica (p. 365 in BENA).

Ed. Note:  According to the book Beetles of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans:  “Adults on flowers of palmetto (Sabal palmetto), New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanum), aster (Seriocarpus), etc.”  Additional images are available on BugGuide.  Of the family, BugGuide notes: 

“Most abundant along the coast and in moist wooded habitats. Adults of some species are nectar and pollen feeders and often found on flowers. They are also found resting on foliage or in moist, rotten logs. Larvae develop in moist, decaying logs, stumps, and roots of hardwoods and conifers, including wharf pilings and driftwood.”

Letter 2 – I read through your website…


Hi Bugman,
I read through your website and still am not able to find what this creature is!!! I spent last night surfing the web, trying to find out more information, but still no luck. You’re my last resort, Bugman! My husband and I came home to find 2 of these on our garage floor. It’s by far the largest bug I’ve ever seen! It measures about 1.5 inches long (see picture).

I thought it was some sort of beetle or cockroach, but apparently not. My friend did more research and thought it was the (rare?) Stag Beetle. But it doesn’t match the description. We live in Massachusetts. I’m not sure how common this bug is, or if it’s even harmful at all. I know you’re busy right now, what with summer and all, but I’d appreciate any help you can give us! Great website, by the way!
Lynn
Freaked out in Massachusetts.

D
ear Freaked Out,
It is a Stag Beetle. I know there are reddish varieties, but I have only seen black ones. Perhaps the red beetles you found are a subspecies of Pseudoleucanus capreolus. The photos are beautiful. They are not harmful, though can deliver a mild pinch with those formidable jaws on the male beetle. The grubs eat rotting wood. One of the few items in our gift shop right now is a stag beetle t-shirt.

Letter 3 – Household Intruder: Bark Beetle or Ambrosia Beetle

Tiny bugs on windowsill
January 11, 2010
Every hour I have to vacuum these MANY tiny bugs from my window sills in the front room of my home. They sometimes appear on my kitchen stove (although less often), and the kitchen window sill as well. Most of the time they are either dead, or are dying (or they appear to be).

I have even found them crawling on my neck! I can’t seem to find out how they are getting in my home, although i suspect they are crawling in through cracks or small openings in and around the windows. They seem to accumulate near the window where my wood stove is located. Thank you for your help in identifying these pests, and please let me know if I need to exterminate.
Baffled New Englander
Southeastern Massachusetts

Unknown Beetle
Bark Beetle or Ambrosia Beetle

Dear Baffled,
WE are also a bit puzzled.  The distinctive shape of your beetle and the clubbed antennae disqualifies most of the typical household pantry beetles we typically identify.  We have eliminated the North American Flour Beetle, Tribolium brevicornis, which can be viewed on BugGuide

We believe your culprits are in the superfamily Bostrichoidea, which contains many household intruders, including Carpet Beetles, Powder Post Beetles, Deathwatch Beetles, and Spider Beetles, but we had no luck sorting through the superfamily on BugGuide

We can tell you what it is not, but not what it is.  It is the middle of the night, and we will have to wait until tomorrow for a response, but we hope Eric Eaton will have more luck with the identity of this curious specimen.

Eric Eaton provides information
Daniel:
Good news:  The beetles are not infesting any foods in the pantry, or clothing in the closet.  The image shows some kind of bark or ambrosia beetle, family Curculionidae, subfamily Scolytinae. 

I am not a specialist in these, but I do know someone who is (Dr. Stephanie Dole), and will see what she has to say.  I’d bet these are emerging from stored firewood.
Eric

I’m very relieved to hear that! Thank you very much! I wonder, though, why these bugs seem to be coming in from where the windows are (One window is about 2-3 feet away from the wood stove).

Our firewood is stored outside, and only brought in as needed. If they are somehow in/on the firewood, how did they get on the windowsills? We have two Bay windows, and each are approximately 9-10 feet apart from one another.
[Baffled]

Letter 4 – Iron Cross Blister Beetle

Hi. Recently my son found this beautiful bug near our house in Glendale, AZ. I’m attaching a picture. It has a bright red head, and it’s back is yellow with a black pattern dividing it into 4 parts. It’s the first and only time we’ve seen one.
Any idea?
Thanks–
Wes

Ironcross Blister Beetle
Ironcross Blister Beetle

Dear Wes,
I contacted our sources at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, and he provided the following information.

Thanks for sending the beetle photo. It is in the Blister Beetle family: Meloidae. You can probably look it up on the internet…try under the genus name Lytta. Some of these beetles exude a toxic liquid which can cause blisters on the skin. I’m not sure this one does that.
Hope this helps you!
Take care. Brian Harris
Entomology Section
Natural History Museum LA Co.

A web search did not turn up a more exact identification, but there is this site which has a photo of a close relative Lytta magister http://www.solpugid.com/gallery/Gallery3.htm which also has a red head and legs. I do have some interesting background information on the genus however.

A blue-green colored European relative Lytta vesicatoria, is known by the common name Spanish fly: Perhaps the most famous `aphrodisiac’ of folk lore is `Spanish Fly’ made from the dried beetle _Cantharis_ (Lytta) _vesicatoria_, which is widely found in areas of southern Europe.

The active ingredient of the prepared insect is cantharidin, and the powdered product contains around 0.6 percent of the substance. Sometimes a tincture of cantharidin is made, and the fatal dose is usually reckoned at 1.5 to 3 grams of the powder, or about 200 millilitres of the tincture.

I have not given up entirely on the identification. I will be making a trip to the insect museum in Riverside in the near future. Thanks again for the awesome photo which is currently on my desktop at work.
Have a great day.
Daniel

Editor’s Note: Continued research has identified this little beauty as a member of the Blister Beetle Family known as Soldier Beetles, Tegrodera erosa Lec. or Tegrodera latecincta Horn.

“They are 17-30 mm. long; the head red; the prothorax dusky red; the antennae, legs, and remainder of the body shining black; and the elytra golden yellow, reticulated, and with black margins, a black median belt, and black apices. In the former specioes the black markings of the elytra are very obscure, while on the latter they are strongly pronounced.

The beetles ordinarily feed upon the native sage brush, artemisia, and other plants, but frequently invade alfalfa fields and do much damage.” according to Essig in Insects and Mites of Western North America.

Update: (11/09/2008)
After doing our site migration and checking that everything migrated, we found this posting that was never correctly identified as an Iron Cross Blister Beetle

Another Iron Cross Blister Beetle
We have Hundreds maybe Thousands on the ground and
all over our house. Please help us as my 6 and 4 year olds are scared and me too!
aceman

Iron Cross Blister Beetle
Iron Cross Blister Beetle

We were unable to anwer this reader who should be somewhat afraid of Blister Beetles which can cause a skin reaction.

Letter 5 – If They Were Bugs? Of What Bugs Do the Candidates Remind You? Leave a Comment!

For Us, Donald Trump is clumsy and deadly, kind of like a Toe-Biter.  They sound stubborn too.  We can well imagine a predatory, aquatic True Bug being used by a young boy to scare a young girl.  That scenario seems somewhat Trumpian.

Close-Up of a Toe-Biter
If The Donald was a Bug:  Close-Up of a Toe-Biter

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand is much more stealth than she is clumsy, and we would not want to cross her as we imagine her wrath would be unflinching.  Hillary reminds us of a Preying Mantis

She is deliberate and she is stronger than her mate, who can become a meal, losing his head while copulating, and never losing a beat, so that she would have the energy to raise a brood.  A Preying Mantis can turn its head to look behind it.

If Hillary was a Bug: Mantis Eats Hummer.
If Hillary was a Bug: Mantis Eats Hummer.

For Bernie Sanders, we decided to reference the “Feel the Bern” campaign slogan and we selected the Iron Cross Blister Beetle, which could cause folks to feel the burn if it is carelessly handed. 

We found a great image from our archives of an Iron Cross Blister Beetle taking a dip in the swimming pool, but Bernie’s campaign is showing no evidence of cooling off as California’s primary approaches.

Iron Cross Blister Beetle: Feel the Bern
Bernie Sanders:  Cooling Off or still Feeling the Burn???

Origin of this Posting:  May 7, 2016
We thought today while working in the yard how we might anthropomorphize some bugs that remind us of the political candidates, and the first thing that came to mind today for Donald Trump, because of a comment from Roxanne we received, is a Toe-Biter.
 

According to Roxanne:  “I have never been bitten. they pinch however, with their big front legs. they are also difficult to remove from clothing, as they are velcro-like. Also difficult to remove from hysterical humans, they have landed on. They are terrible flyers.. bombadiers.”

Comment from a reader
Candidate bugs
June 7, 2016 6:00 am
Loved, loved loved the Candidate comparison. And spot on. Would love to see the rest of the Republican field (pre-primaries).
Signature: Steve

A Reader Makes a Request
Subject: would like to post candidate pics
September 10, 2016 1:19 pm
i have 2 pics i wonder if you would like to post under candidate profiles.
is it it possible to do so?
Signature: susan warner

Hi Susan,
Please create a posting and attach the images.  Use the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site and we can add your submission to the existing posting.

Letter 6 – ewwww

We keep finding these what look like tiny beetles in our house. I have found maybe 10 over the last week. Tonight I found one in our bed and that freaked me out. I have a picture of the nasty little thing I scanned. The bug is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch at the most. It looks all brownish/black to the naked eye but when I scanned it it looks kind of spotty.

I am not sure if they bite. On the scan the bug is split up the middle of it’s back, but that’s just from when I killed it. No wings that I can see, but kind of a round bulbus butt, and a head the comes not really to a point, more like a triangle with the top cut off where the mouth is. 6 legs, and one set of antenna.

I am not sure why they keep coming in our house or where they come from, and I don’t know if they bite. I am somewhat bug-phobic, so any answers you can provide could help tremendously!!

I looks like a type of weevil, some species of which attack food in the pantry, which could explain their presence in your house.

Thanks very much. I did a picture search on Google and that’s the guy.
We have more weeds than usual close to the kitchen / side entrance so
that also explains them getting within reach of the house too. Thanks
for your help!

Letter 7 – Found this guy…

Found this guy flying in my basement area. Makes a loud noise when flying. Any idea what this is? Actual size about 2″ in length. Thanks,
Aaron
Dear Aaron,
It is a Ten Lined June Beetle, Polyphylla decemlineata, members of the Scarab Beetle family. The grubs are pests on peach trees, devouring the roots. The adults eat pine needles. They are attracted to lights at night, probably explaining the presence in your basement. They sometimes make loud squeeking noises when handled.

Letter 8 – Glorious Beetle

bugs
Also found in Payson Arizona in late August
Danny Lee

Hi again Danny,
We are thrilled to have your photo of a Glorious Beetle, Plusiotis gloriosa. Many people consider it to be the most beautiful American beetle. We are going to include the female Dynastes grantii with the male you sent in earlier.

Letter 9 – Glorious Beetle

the glorious beetle
My husband came across your website a few days ago and ever since we’ve been addicted! I never knew there were so many bugs out there….and even more so, so many interesting looking ones!

Turns out they’re not all ugly! ha. Anyway, we’ve just moved to Arizona and already are finding the most interesting things!

I wanted to send a picture in of our newest find, the glorious beetle (thanks to your website we found what it was). Please enjoy….and thanks so much for the wonderful site!!
Sincerely,
Jessica

Hi Jessica,
You really did spend some time with our site to locate the Glorious Beetle, Plusiotis gloriosa, which is deeply buried in our archive. Not only that, we lifted that photo from the web and will probably now change it, replacing the pilfered photo with your photo.

Here is what the Angelfire site has to say: “Numerous authors have called this the most beautiful beetle in the U.S.; metallic gold stripes and hologram green colors support this statement. P. gloriosa is also the most common Plusiotus sp. in the U.S. P. gloriosa eat only juniper leaves in the wild but in captivity accept pear slices and seem to accept not other fruits.

Larvae grow well on a diet of well-rotted hardwood. Most races can take less than a year to raise to adults.” This beetle is very valued by collectors.

Letter 10 – Groundselbush Beetle Larva

Subject: Rainbow Colored larvae or caterpillar
Location: New Bern, NC
April 19, 2015 11:17 am
Found a few of these crawling around a small shrub at the edge of the woods behind my house; North Carolina, Croatan Forest, Longleaf Pine/swamp habitat. Never seen colors like this before and can’t find it in my caterpillar book nor online. (You try Googling rainbow caterpillar/larvae and see what you get! LOL . . .)
Help?
Signature: Diane

Groundselbush Beetle Larva
Groundselbush Beetle Larva

Dear Diane,
We have trouble remembering the name of the Groundselbush Beetle Larva,
Trirhabda bacharidis, but we always remember its distinctive appearance and we can quickly locate older postings of Groundselbush Beetle Larvae.

Letter 11 – Grubs

Hi Daniel,
I’m having an ongoing problem with what I’m told are grubs in my St. Augustin grass. Each summer I get these patches which turn yellow/ brown and die out, just as if I hadn’t watered them in ages, which is, of course, not the case.

Apparently they eat the roots of the grass causing the tops to die. I have usually spread grub killer and that seems to take care of it. The problem is that the grub killer, called “Seven,” I believe, is super toxic, indicating the need to wear socks, long pants, gloves, respirator (my addition), etc.

Do you know of any similar remedy for grubs that would not be so environmentally horrendous? I have three cats who live in this grass daily and I don’t want one of them to start growing an extra head or some other such gruesome mutation. Caroline, a Manx, already has all the extra toes she can handle.
Thanks,
Kathleen (a.k.a. Toxic Avenger)

Dear Kathleen,
I can think of three possible culprits for your St. Agustine grass problem, the likliest one being the chinch bug, Blissus insularis, small gray-black insects that suck plant juices from grass blades, especially St. Agustine grass, especially in hot weather.

To confirm chinch bugs, according to the Western Garden Book , push a bottomless can into the soil just where the grass is beginning to turn brown. Fill can with water, If lawn is infested, chinch bugs will float to the surface. Diazinon and chlorpyrifos are chemical controls. According to Hogue, the Southern Chinch Bug feeds on several grasses, but Saint Augustine is by far the preferred host plant.

The insect’s feeding may cause considerable damage: the grass becomes dwarfed, turns yellow and then brown, and dies. Because of the tendency of the species to form aggregations, the symptoms of attack are usually visible in scattered patches.

The species is not a native. It first appeared in the Los Angeles area in the late 1960’s, having come from the southeastern states. It produces two generations per year and is most abundant in midsummer. Two additional possible culprits that require the same chemical control are Sod Webworms and beetle grubs.

If you see whitish to buff colored moths flying around the lawn in a zigzag pattern at night, check for their larvae. To confirm Sod Webworms, drench area of lawn with a solution of 1 tablespoon dishwashing soap diluted in 1 gallon of water. Larvae will come to surface. Treat if there are 15 or more webworms per square yard.

Letter 12 – Grubs

Dear Mr. Bug Man,
These live in my compost pile. They seem to be good for the decomposition, because they eat the contents of the pile and excrete them in a much-broken-down-form. But: what the hell? Big as my pinkie. Jerusalem Cricket?
Thanks,
Sean Dungan



Dear Sean,
Despite the suspiciously similar appearance to the killer “graboids” from the movie Tremors, your grub is just a grub, in this case the larval form of the Green Fruit Beetle (Cotinus mutabilis).

Any observant insect watcher in Southern California, Arizona or Mexico has surely seen these enormous metalic green scarabs which take flight in August and September, buzzing noisily and circling clumsily in their search for fruit, namely figs, peaches, apricots, nectarines, grapes and cactus fruit which is the wild host plant.

Originally native to Arizona and New Mexico, the beetle has moved west and is now relatively common in the Los Angeles Basin. Eggs are laid in compost piles, and the grubs, which can reach 2 inches in length, are sometimes called “crawly-backs” because of their method of locomotion, which involves undulating the body and pushing against the substratum with short stout bristles on the back of the thorax.

The grubs feed on decaying vegetation, and are beneficial to the compost pile.

Letter 13 – Ham Beetle

What is this beetle?
Mr. Bugman,
I live in southcentral Alaska and I found this beetle among my dermestid beetle colony about 4 days ago. They are about 4.5mm in length, blue on the dorsal side/black on the ventral side and they can fly.

They may have gotten in with my colony with the last skull that was put in, which had been stored on a woodshed under a bunch of spruce/hemlock trees. I was thinking that they were related to the bark beetle, although the color doesnโ€™t seem to match.

Can you tell me what this is? Do you know if these beetles are harmful to my dermestid beetles? Could they be harmful to the building and/or animals in the building if they get out? Thanks for the advice!
Jenelle

Hi Jenelle, We contacted Eric Eaton who is putting together a guide book for this identification. He wrote back:
“Ah, a ham beetle, Necrobia violacea, family Cleridae. One book I have says they prey on dermestid beetle larvae, which could be the case because other clerids are predatory. I would not be concerned by the presence of only one, however.

I don’t think we have an image of this insect for our field guide yet, so if this person wants to contact me, that’d be great. In fact, we don’t have many images of dermestids, either.”
I am replying to him as well, so if you want to allow your photos to be printed in the guidebook, that would be great. Thanks for sending us a new species.

We continued to be curious, especially about the common name Ham Beetle, so we did some google searching because we know people who cure Virginia Hams. Sure enough, both the adults and larvae of the Red Legged Ham Beetle, Necrobius rufipes, bore into the meat and ruin hams. Here is a site that talks about curing Virginia Hams.

Letter 14 – Hide Beetle

Beetle I.D. + A Compliment!
Your site is awesome! I am a member of The American Tarantula Society and current have ovr 100 tarantulas in my home. I’ve just had two newly hatched eggsacs, and I’m NOT going to count them yet! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Not only is your site informative, you speak of all insects as beautiful creatures to be appreciated, NOT smashed beneath a shoe. I’ll be referring many folks to you site in the future in hopes that they wil learn appreciation of the little critters, as well as be able to identify them!!


With Theraphosidae, it’s often impossible to make an identification with photographs, especially with the Aphonopelma genus, I was surprised that I could send you a photo of a beetle and have you identify it.

I live in Moreno Valley, Southern California, and found this little cutie outside my office. I’m pretty familiar with the local flora and fauna, but have never seen a beetle such as this. Thanks in advance for the i.d., and keep up the good work!
Terri Millard

Hi Terri,
Thank you for your most kind letter. Regarding our identification capabilities, when in doubt, we turn to Eric Eaton who almost always bails us out. Here is what he has to say about your beetle: “Ah, the image is of a Hide Beetle, a type of scarab in the genus Trox or Omorgus.

They used to be in their own family, the Trogidae, but are now in with the scarabs. They arrive in the last stages of decay of carcasses, feeding on mummified skin, dry feathers or fur, etc. They play dead extremely convincingly, and are also often caked with so much debris as to be unrecognizable. This is an exceptionally clean specimen. Eric”

Letter 15 – Horned Powder-Post Beetle from Baja

Hi Bugman,
Here’s another Baja Bug for your expert ID. Two horns on the hiney! What is that thing?

This looks like one of the Horned Powderpost Beetles in the family Bostrichidae. We will see if Eric Eaton has any additional comments.

Letter 16 – I am freaked out in Mass too !!!!!!

Thank God for your site! We just finished our basement and the other morning my 2 1/2 year old daughter came running up the basement stairs shouting about a BIG bug. I thought it was going to be an ant, but it was a Stag Beetle even larger than the one in the photo sent to you by Lynn in Massachusetts.

Ours was nearly three inches long and it was dark brown. I am writing because of your comment about the beetle enjoying rotting wood. Do you think this means I have rotting wood in my house or did this really scary creature get lost?
Much appreciated!
Kim

Dear Kim,
It could be rotting wood, in which case you should think of the Stag Beetle as an early alert. It is also
reputed that the beetles, which can fly, are attracted to lights, in which case your visit could be benign.

Letter 17 – I found a beetle while hiking…

Hi,
I found a beetle while hiking the woods in Plymouth Massachusetts. It looks like a big japanese beetle with what looks like a shield or hood behind its head, and has a horn like a rhino. It’s about 3/4 long. It was found near scrub oaks and fields. It’s dead probably from the cold. Any idea what it might be?
Thanks
Ken

Dear Ken,
You made a good call all around. Not only does your beetle look like a rhinoceros, it is named for one. The rhinoceros beetle, Xyloryctes jamaicensis, and its relatives the ox beetle and the unicorn beetle, are all horned members of the scarab beetle family which includes dung beetles, june beetles and japanese beetles. Check out this website for more information: http://insects.tamu.edu/images/insects/fieldguide

Dear Mr. Bug Man,
These live in my compost pile. They seem to be good for the decomposition, because they eat the contents of the pile and excrete them in a much-broken-down-form. But: what the hell? Big as my pinkie. Jerusalem Cricket?
Thanks,
Sean Dungan


Dear Sean,
Despite the suspiciously similar appearance to the killer “graboids” from the movie Tremors, your grub is just a grub, in this case the larval form of the Green Fruit Beetle (Cotinus mutabilis).

Any observant insect watcher in Southern California, Arizona or Mexico has surely seen these enormous metalic green scarabs which take flight in August and September, buzzing noisily and circling clumsily in their search for fruit, namely figs, peaches, apricot
s, nectarines, grapes and cactus fruit which is the wild host plant.

Originally native to Arizona and New Mexico, the beetle has moved west and is now relatively common in the Los Angeles Basin. Eggs are laid in compost piles, and the grubs, which can reach 2 inches in length, are sometimes called “crawly-backs” because of their method of locomotion, which involves undulating the body and pushing against the substratum with short stout bristles on the back of the thorax.

The grubs feed on decaying vegetation, and are beneficial to the compost pile.

Letter 18 – I live in a small town in Norfolk in the UK…

Hi,
I live in a small town in Norfolk in the UK. I wonder if you would be able to give me any information on a bug that we only seem to get in our area. We believe the bug is called either a July Bug or a Billy Witch.

It’s a beetle of about an inch in length with a hard outer shell but the also fly and try to get tangled in anything they can. Is there anything else you could tell me about this bug so I can prove
to my neighbour they exist.
Many thanks.
Neil

I’m guessing that our May Beetles, also called June Bugs, are what you are calling a July Bug, since it fits your description. It is a type of scarab beetle that is attracted to lights at night. I have never heard the name Billy Witch before, but it is a good one.

Letter 19 – I need help…

Ok ,
I need help…. Bad. I just had both of my hips replaced the last one in Feb. I was out walking in my yard, I live out in the Country in Missouri, near Kansas City. I was swarmed by what I thought at the time was Bees, flying around me. I did my best to try and run, but not good at that as of yet.I just knew I was doomed… Ok, I didn’t get stung.

A guy was at my home to work on something and I asked him to go out and see what there were,….BEETLES…. LOTS of Beetles. Close in size to June bugs, not as tall or thick, but length wise close. When flying, I thought they looked like bees, yellow jackets or something. Because they have yellow showing when in flight. When captured…

They are a Green Metallic,all across the back,but tipped in yellow, and at the point if you can call it that, of the bottom, they are yellow too. Alsothe under side is yellow around the base of the legs, than metallic green down the leg. (I hate Bugs)Really bad….

Now I have thousands of these beetles, Someone said Japanese Beetles, but in photos,they are shaped somewhat different and are a brownish on the back, these have no red, or brown… Please Help me…. Susan N. Photography Liberty, Missouri

Dear Susan,
I think you have been terrorized by GREEN JUNE BEETLES, Cotinus nitida. Here is some information as well as a drawing I discovered on two websites:

DESCRIPTION
Adult — The beetle is 15 to 22 mm long with dull, velvety green wings. Its head, legs, and underside are shiny green, and its sides are brownish-yellow.

Joe Boggs reported that GREEN JUNE BEETLES, Cotinus nitida, are terrorizing backyard gardeners, sunbathers, small pets, etc., as they buzz lawns in southern Ohio. These big, metallic green beetles tend to emerge en masse.

Their large size, coupled with an audible “buz
zing” sound and low level flight plan (cruising at about 2 to 3 feet) may induce mild panic in those individuals unfamiliar with this insect. Adults feed on tree leaves as a skeletonizer. Fortunately, they rarely cause significant plant injury.

Their primary goal is to locate turf with high levels of organic matter (e.g. thatch) in which to lay eggs. Lawns covered with partially composted manures have also been found to be highly attractive to the adults and they may burrow into cool compost piles, under decomposing manure and into decayed mulch.

It has been speculated that this attraction to decomposing organic matter explains why adults tend to show-up in large numbers on certain lawns while ignoring surrounding turf.

Unlike other Scarab beetle larvae such as Japanese beetle grubs, green June beetle grubs burrow 10 to 12 inches into the soil and they remain closely associated with these burrows.

The grubs do venture out at night, especially after heavy rains, to feed
on thatch and other organic matter and they occasionally find their way onto driveways, sidewalks and into swimming pools. Despite their large size, green June beetle larvae seldom cause injury to turf equal to that caused by Japanese beetles or masked chafers.

Letter 20 – I read through your website…


I have photos if necessary. It’s not an earwig, but approximately that size. This bug is solid black, no wings, doesn’t reduce size really at the abdomen and what not. Small legs, nothing like a cricket. Not like a beetle, nothing like a cockroach. We’ve found a few of these crawling across the floors lately, and it freaks out my wife hehe. Any ideas? Would the photos help?
David

Dear David,
Photos always help. Might be a rove beetle. There is a species known as the Devil’s Coach Horse, Staphylinus olens, that is solid black. It is a true beetle, though is rather atypical appearing. They are European imports, and eat snails and slugs, hence are advantageous to the gardener. Both adults and grubs are adept hunters.

Amazing. I have searched the web for a few days, identify a bug sites, all kinds of crazy stuff. Nothing. No where. I email you and you instantly know what it is. I attached the pictures of the one specimin I photographed closely. I googled up a bunch of photos. But the photos I have seen of live ones and what not, if there are no very close relatives, that is it.
You said they are European imports. So they are already across the United States? They are in Salt Lake City anyway. A little more reading on them, they say they raise up like a scorpion when scared, release a stinky smell from their abdomen (true) does not sting but can give a painful bite.

We are not gardeners, we live in brand new apartments, and we are finding them in our house. Should something be done? Or should we just scoop them up and let them outside? Thanks again on identifying it, with such a vague description really. Best site ๐Ÿ™‚
google.com search identify a font.

The site, identifies fonts, asks one question at a time, and identifies the font, to 2 or three fonts out of like 10,000 fonts. A bug site like that, would be amazing. I’m not much of a bug expert, but if you wanted any design help for such a site, let me know.

Letter 21 – I was wondering…


Hello,
I was wondering if you could tell me what this thing was. It is very different. However I found it dead, so I decided to take pics, It looks mean. What is it’s purpose. I have never seen anything like this. We are in the Limestone area, of Texas. Thanks ever so much.
Gary

Hi Gary, It is a male Unicorn Beetle, Dynastes tityus, a member of the scarab family prized by collectors. The males have three horns, not one, so Unicorn Beetle is something of a misnomer. The grubs are found in rotting wood. It is a Southern insect.

Letter 22 – I work at Colorado River State Park…


Mr. Bugman,
I work at Colorado River State Park. This cute little guy was found over here last evening. We are currently lacking a decent insect field guide, and were hoping that you could help us out. He’s obviously from Order Coleoptera, and makes a distinct screaming noise when threatened.
Thank you much,
Ranger DeBerard

Dear Ranger,
You have a California Prionus beetle, Prionus californicus, a member of the borer beetl group. They are among the largest beetles in the Western US. Though I couldn’t find any information on their noise making habits, I do know for a fact that other borers, including the red and black Milkweed Borer, Tetraopes tetraophthalmus, are capable of squeeking when handled.

Here is some information I downloaded from another site: Range: California: coastal and inland valleys, foothills, and mountains to middle elevations. > Alaska, south to Baja
California, and east, into the Rocky Mountains. Hosts: Prevalent in oak, madrone, poplar and apple; also attacks cherry, walnut, chestnut, willow, serviceberry, eucalyptus, pear, almond, peach, plum, quince, alder, hop, some conifers, brambles and certain shrubs.

Biology: Adults fly June to September; females may lay up to 600 eggs; lifecycle takes 3-5 years. Importance: Larvae bore into bark at plant bases, and penetrate roots; leaves yellow, then defoliate; bark on larger branches dries and cracks. Plants often die the following season. Serious pest of apples in New Mexico.

Letter 23 – interesting looking beetle


I was outside doing a little star gazing one night and when I went to look through my telescope I found this little guy just sitting on my eye piece. I’ve done a little investigation and I think maybe it’s an Asian Longhorned Beetle? Any idea what it could be? It was probably 1″ long and it had huge antennae.
Thanks a bunch.
Chris

Dear Chris,
It looks more like a Banded Alder Borer (Rosalia funebris) to me. Borers are beetles characterized by extremely long antennae and the Banded Alder Borer has striped antennae like your photo. The larvae feed on wood, boring into the host plants. The Eucalyptus Long Horned Borer is an introduced pest in California which is reeking havoc on another Australian import, the eucalyptus tree.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com 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.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

13 thoughts on “Do Beetles Bite? Uncovering the Truth About These Insects”

  1. Eric’s comment came up just as I was posting this (I knew he would have the answer), but I got this far so I will post anyway…I agree that this does not look like one of the normal household beetles. At actually looks kind of like a bark beetle (Curculionidae: Scolytinae); something like Orthotomicus sp. perhaps. It sounds like they may have been trying to get out of the house not in โ€“ is it possible they were emerging from some wood that was brought into the house, like firewood? There was mention of a wood stove by the window in question. K

    Reply
  2. Hi, I came to your site to try and find out what kind of bug I am having a problem with and it looks identical to the beetle in this photo. I live in a townhouse, I do not have a fire place or fire wood anywhere closeby. I don’t even have any trees in my yard and have hundreds of these little beetle things around. Mostly around the kitchen, have seen them in my pets food bowls and in my pantry. They seem to like dark places. Most that I find are right outside of the pantry door and mostly dead. Please help, I can’t seem to get rid of them.

    Reply
    • Dear bdudney,
      We suspect you have some species of Pantry Beetle or other stored food infesting Beetle. It is generally the larvae that do the damage to the food, and the adults feed on pollen. We believe adult Weevils may eat the same foods as the larval Weevils. Check out our Pantry Beetles Category.

      Reply
  3. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized it’s
    new to me. Regardless, I’m certainly delighted I found it and I’ll be
    book-marking it and checking back frequently!

    Reply
  4. Is it common for the Iron cross beetle to attack!
    I was spraying them with bug spray as I must have had some 2-3 hundred in my backyard and was attacked toward my head by 2 of them!
    It was like they were on a mission.
    Been at this property 3 yrs, first time I’ve ever seen them!
    Nowhere can I find that they fly!
    Thanks for the info.
    Bob
    Queen Creek ,AZ

    Reply
  5. Well for Bernie it would have to be one of the parasites such as a louse since he wants to promote the epic failure that history has shown socialism to be, although his wife has discovered that when you do run out of other peoples money as she did at her last employer, take a $200,000 pay out and leave town before the bank forecloses on the school.
    For Hillary, a cuckoo wasp, all bright and shiny on the outside but only too happy to kill your offspring and replace them with her own and blame it on a video.
    For the Donald, bad hair or not he is very popular with a huge number of people and he has been covering a lot of ground so I’m going to have to go with Wanderer Butterfly.

    Reply
    • Thanks for taking the time to ruminate on our proposition Trevor. It is interesting to read an Australian perspective on our current American political circus.

      Reply
  6. I purchased a cutting board made out of ‘ambrosia wood’ about 3 years ago. A description card from the man who made it said that it was ambrosia wood. He described how the beetles helped make the tiny holes and so forth in the beautiful wood. I put it in a walk-in closet, where I sometimes store gifts. I went back later to get something and noticed powder everywhere on the board! Guess what…I unknowingly brought in ambrosia beetles. I started looking in the closet and noticed that the beetles were everywhere. They had also eaten on other pieces of wood that I had in the closet. I vacuumed the ones up that I saw and also vacuumed eveything in there, piece by piece. Then I put Sevin Dust everywhere and left it for about two week with the door closed. I thought I had taken care of my bug problem. Fast forward two years…a few days ago I opened a bag of wood chargers that I had put in a plastic bag when all this happened. There were no telltale signs at that time that I put the chargers in the plastic bags that they had been infested…I did not see any holes or powder. However…when I opened the bag a few days ago…there was wood powder everywhere! I did not see anyone mention in the above comments that they had wood powder anywhere…just that they saw the beetles. These ambrosia beetles probably only eat certain kinds of wood. My question is how do I get rid of them. The ones I saw in the bag were dead…but, I believe I saw one fly off. I don’t want them to start eating my furniture. Does anyone else have any experience with them?! Thanks in advance!!!

    Reply
  7. We also have found these IN the house. They seem to be coming from the mulch we purchased, but are not finding hundreds a day inside the house! We have no powder or he’s so I don’t think they are powder post beetles. we have been told that they are shot hole borer beetles, which is another type of Ambrosia beetle. They seem to be coming in through cracks in the window but everytime I wipe them up there seem to be dozens more just an hour later. Has anyone been able to get rid of these?

    Reply

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