Do Beetles Fly? Uncovering the Mystery Behind Their Wings

Beetles are fascinating creatures belonging to the order Coleoptera, which is the largest group of insects on Earth.

They come in various shapes and sizes, with around 30,000 species known in the U.S. and Canada alone. One intriguing aspect of these insects is their ability to fly.

While not all beetles are capable of flight, many species do possess wings and can take to the air.

Do Beetles Fly
Ground Beetle

Some of these flying beetles include the long-horned beetles and ladybird beetles.

It is important to note that even within species, there can be variations, with some beetles exhibiting wings and others not.

By understanding their flying abilities, we can appreciate beetles’ vital role in ecosystems, such as their function as pollinators for various plant species.

Regardless of their differences, beetles play an essential role in maintaining the balance within nature.

Do Beetles Fly? Beetle Biology and Anatomy

Wings and Elytra

Beetles have two pairs of wings:

  • Elytra: Hard, protective coverings for the hind wings6
  • Hind wings: Delicate, membranous wings used for flying7

Head

The head of a beetle contains the primary sensory organs, like the eyes and antennae. Beetles have compound eyes, made up of multiple small lenses, which provide them with a wide field of vision1.

Thorax

The thorax is the midsection of the beetle’s body and supports its six legs and two pairs of wings2.

The first pair of wings, known as elytra, are hardened and protect the delicate hind wings underneath3.

Longhorned Borer Beetle

Abdomen

The abdomen houses a beetle’s digestive and reproductive organs4. It is segmented and typically protected by a tough exoskeleton5.

Legs and Claws

Beetles have six legs, each ending in a claw or tarsus8. These claws allow them to grip surfaces and hold prey9.

Antennae and Setae

Beetle antennae are sensory organs that detect chemicals, vibrations, and air currents10. Setae are hair-like structures that cover the beetle’s body, providing additional sensory information11.

Mouthparts and Mandibles

Beetle mouthparts include mandibles (jaws), maxillae (supporting structures), and labium (lower lip)12.

They’re adapted for chewing, cutting, or piercing food13.

Eyes and Compound Eyes

As mentioned previously, beetles have compound eyes that are composed of many small lenses.

This provides them with a wide field of vision and allows them to detect movement more easily14.

Exoskeleton and Protection

The exoskeleton of beetles is made from a material called chitin15.

This tough, lightweight structure provides support, protection, and sometimes camouflage16.

Flying Abilities of Beetles

Two Pairs of Wings and Alae

Beetles have two pairs of wings, with the first pair being hardened and thickened.

These hard forewings are called elytra, which serve as a protective shield for the fragile flying wings underneath.

The second pair of wings, called alae, are folded beneath the elytra when not in use.

Flight Techniques and Adaptations

Beetles use a variety of flight techniques, depending on their size and shape. Some beetles, like the ladybug, are agile fliers and use rapid wingbeats.

Others, such as the long-horned beetle, rely on their robust body and strong wings for a steadier flight.

Additionally, some beetles have developed specialized body structures, like the net-winged beetles with their intricately veined wings, which aid in their maneuverability during flight.

Netwinged Beetle

Influence of Size and Shape on Flight

The size and shape of a beetle can greatly affect its flying ability. Smaller beetles, like the ground beetles, tend to be agile fliers due to their lightweight bodies.

Larger beetles, such as the rhinoceros beetle, may face challenges in flight because of their size and heavy armor.

To overcome these challenges, larger beetles rely on their powerful wing muscles and sturdy body structure.

Beetle SizeFlight AbilityExample
SmallAgile fliersGround beetle
LargeRequires strengthRhinoceros beetle

Conclusion

Beetles, belonging to the vast order Coleoptera, exhibit a captivating ability to fly. While not all beetles fly, many species, such as long-horned and ladybird beetles, possess wings and can soar.

Their wings consist of a protective hardened pair called elytra and a delicate pair underneath used for flight.

Beetles’ flight techniques vary based on their size and shape, with some being agile fliers and others relying on strength.

Their flying abilities highlight their essential ecological roles, from pollination to nutrient cycling, emphasizing their significance in maintaining ecological balance.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

  2. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/beetle-dissection

  3. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/beetles.shtml

  4. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/life-cycle

  5. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

  6. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/beetles.shtml

  7. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

  8. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/beetle-dissection

  9. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

  10. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/beetle-dissection

  11. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

  12. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/beetle-dissection

  13. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

  14. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

  15. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/beetle-dissection

  16. https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/beetle

Reader Emails

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

Letter 1 – Is it possible to avoid transporting insects in a move?????

Tips for a bug-free move?
Location: New York, NY
November 8, 2010 7:30 pm
Hi Bugman,
I live in New York City–a.k.a. Bedbug Central–so when I found a bug on the rug in my closet a few weeks ago, I completely freaked out! I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bedbug–it didn’t look like any of the pictures I’d seen, I hadn’t been bitten, and a thorough search of my mattress and headboard turned up nothing. Still, I panicked!


Thanks to your website, I’m now confident that that bug–and a few that have subsequently appeared–are spider beetles and beetle larvae. (The latter look exactly like the many carpet beetle larvae photos on your site, and they curl up into a ball when touched.)

They seem to love the dark corners of my closet (see photo). So far I’ve found two dead spider beetles in a hanging jewelry organizer that I keep in my closet, and a few live larvae–the one on the closet rug, one in a ratty old pair of slippers (which I immediately bagged and threw away!), and one crawling up the tile wall in my bathroom.


Here’s my question: In about a month I will be moving to a new apartment here in the city. Do you think it is worth having an exterminator visit as a precautionary measure? If not, will I run the risk of transporting these pests with me to my new pad? I’m not sure if hiring someone to inspect my stuff pre-move is a smart idea or a waste of money.


I’d also appreciate any tips on avoiding picking up bedbugs during a move. (The other day I saw a mover on the street with one of those filthy blankets that they use for padding, which just seems like asking for bedbugs to me!) I’m planning to pack all of my clothing and linens in sealed plastic containers, wrap my couch and mattress in plastic, and provide my own packing materials. Are there any other steps I can/should take?
Signature: R.D.

Dark Closet: What is lurking in there?????

Dear R.D.,
In our opinion, your desire for a bug free move is a fantasy, and the best advice that we could give you to attempt to accomplish that goal with anything vaguely resembling certainty will probably be rejected by you as an impossibility.  The best way to ensure that you will not take any bugs with you is to leave everything behind, including those nice wool sweaters hanging in the dark closet. 

Especially leave all food behind.  Move into a brand new apartment in a brand new building that is composed entirely of synthetic materials.  When you purchase brand new clothes and furnishings, do not buy anything made with organic materials.  Never ever eat in your new home.  Do not store any food in the kitchen.  Make sure that you discard the clothing you are wearing before entering your new home and purchase synthetic clothing prior to your first visit. 

Do not entertain nor ever allow any visitors to enter your new home.  There is no guarantee that you can have a bug free existence even with the extreme measures we have described.  We share this planet with insects and other bugs and they can be found most anywhere.  On a more practical level, the measures that you have described in your email sound like a good way to reduce the chances of transporting undesirable creatures from your existing apartment to the new place. 

We agree that an inspector and a visit by the exterminator prior to the move is most likely a waste of money, especially since you already know you have Spider Beetles and Larvae in your home.  In our opinion, you probably have cause to be concerned about the moving company you employ and the dirty blankets they use to wrap belongings.  You may want to wash or have all your clothing and textiles professionally cleaned before moving. 

Even that might be extreme unless you have cause to believe you have an infestation.  Since you have no evidence that there are Bed Bugs in your current household, you probably do not have them.  You have said nothing about Cockroaches which can also be transported while moving, or indeed, when bringing home groceries or laundry from the laundromat. 

Creatures that are considered Household Pests have a nearly cosmopolitan distribution because of they way that they have adapted to living with humans.  These Household Pests include Carpet Beetles, Spider Beetles, Pantry Beetles, Clothes Moths, Cockroaches and others.  We also hope our readership will provide additional advice for you.

Letter 2 – Minute Brown Scavenger Beetle

Subject:  Please identify
Geographic location of the bug:  Port Aransas Texas
Date: 07/20/2019
Time: 10:47 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you please help identify this bug found in beach house in Port Aransas Texas? There have been two. They are tiny maybe 1-1.5mm in size.

Looks like browns in color with some white on one of the heads and second segment then the second hug has white on its second segment too. They look kinda lost not quick to move. Kinda look like some kind of weevil maybe?
How you want your letter signed:  Melody Volz

Minute Brown Scavenger Beetle

Dear Melody,
This is a very tiny Beetle.  Thanks so much for including the human finger for scale.  We have attempted an identification for you, but we still do not have an answer.  We are confident this is NOT a Weevil.  We will attempt to contact some Beetle experts and others who might be able to provide an identification, and perhaps one of our readers will write in with an identification.

Minute Brown Scavenger Beetle

Arthur V. Evans responds
Daniel,
This is in the family Latridiidae, possibly in the genus Dienerella. These beetles occur in damp, moldy situations in buildings.
All the best, ART
Arthur V. Evans, D.Sc.
Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Update:  P.S. I think Cartodere (See BugGuide) might be a better choice!

Minute Brown Scavenger Beetle

Ed. Note:  According to BugGuide  the habitat is “rotting vegetable matter; some species live in houses on damp wallpaper, moldy bread, etc. or otherwise associated with stored products” and they feed on “fungal tissues (slime molds, molds, mildew, spores of “higher” fungi).”

Thank you so much for your help Daniel- I really appreciate it 🙂

Letter 3 – Ornate Cabinet Beetle infests dog food

Very small bug found in my dog’s food hopper.
December 26, 2009
Dear Daniel and Lisa,
I went to feed my dog a few days ago and found many very small bugs in the food as well as larval stages and empty pupa casings. The larval stage are about 1/4 in. long. The bugs are a little larger than the dot pattern on a paper towel.

That is what I photographed it on so that you could see the colors better. I am in central Florida. I do not think that the bugs came with the food as much as got into the hopper later ,which is in stored in the garage.
Mike Healy
Central Florida

Ornate Cabinet Beetle
Ornate Cabinet Beetle

Hi Mike,
We believe this is an Ornate Cabinet Beetle, Trogoderma ornatum, a species that frequently infests stored food.  It is sometimes called a Warehouse Beetle and is a member of the family Dermestidae that includes many household pests including Carpet Beetles. 

These beetles can do great damage to museum collections including insect collections.  BugGuide has some nice images, and the Terminex page has some good information, though we doubt that using their extermination services will help in ridding a home of Cabinet Beetles.

Daniel,
Thanks so much for getting back to me. I figured that it was some sort of beetle, judging by the hard body. I tossed the remaining food, washed the food hopper and thoroughly cleaned the area beneath it. hopefully that will keep them at bay, if not, I will have to find a different storage area for the food.
Have a happy new year and congratulations on the first step of the book.
Mike Healy

Letter 4 – May Beetle Grubs

Grub Pics, Figeater Beetle
January 13, 2010
Thought I would pass on these pics of my grubs. Pulled up a piece of carpet that had grass growing thru it and there they were. They were twice as large as the pic but I’ve had in jar for a week already. I’m gonna let them go now that I know what they are…. and I thiought you might like the additional pics since your post mentioned not many pics found.
New to your site but liking it alot
Bakersfield California

May Beetle Grubs
May Beetle Grubs

Dear New,
Welcome to What’s That Bug? and we hope you have many hours of reading pleasure.  Though your grubs are related to Crawlybacks, the larvae of Fig Eaters, you have dug up the grubs of May Beetles or June Bugs which are called White Grubs. 

The Brown adults are often attracted to porch lights in the spring, hence the name May Beetle.  Your photo nicely illustrates the typical C-shape and bluish abdomen that is characteristic of these White Grubs that feed on subterranean roots and decaying vegetation in the soil.  The typical White Grub is from 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches in length.

White Grub

Letter 5 – Metallic Wood Boring Beetle

Unidentified fly (?) in AZ
Fri, May 22, 2009 at 5:11 PM
Found this evening while pruning hybrid Chilean mesquite; overall length is ~16mm. Compared with images from your website, but could not find any matches. Any idea what it might be?
AJ
Phoenix, AZ

Metallic Wood Boring Beetle
Metallic Wood Boring Beetle

Hi AJ,
This isn’t a fly, which might explain your difficulty with the identification. It is a Metallic Wood Boring Beetle in the family Buprestidae. We believe it is in the genus Chrysobothris. BugGuide pictures a group from this genus known as the femorata species group, and there is a photo from Arizona that looks quite close to your specimen.

We are not sure if Eric Eaton will be able to respond to us at the moment, but we will contact him for his opinion. The second insect in your first photo is an immature Assassin Bug, probably in the genus Zelus.

Metallic Wood Boring Beetle

Daniel:
I don’t even know if that buprestid is a Chrysobothris.  I’ll try and get folks on Entomo-l listserv to respond to you, but it is the holiday weekend, of course….
Eric

Update
December 11, 2009
It is not in the Chrysobothris femorata group, as was suggested.  Rather, it is Chrysobothris merkelii Horn.
Rick

Letter 6 – Possibly Oil Beetle

Subject: Unknown Large Black Torpedo-Shaped Insect
Location: Franklin County, TN
November 16, 2013 10:10 pm
Hello-
First off, I love your site! Keep up the great work!
I’m writing for two reasons:
One, I’d love some help identifying the insect in the first two photos. I live in rural southern-middle Tennessee, and I encountered it on my porch, in the evening, on January 11, 2013. Almost a year ago, I know…I kept forgetting to write! Since moving here, I’ve become very familiar with many of our natural neighbors, but I’ve never seen anything like this!

My wife and I have a very good relationship with the surrounding wildlife and exercise a no-kill policy 99.9% of the time (red wasps (in the house only) being the exception). There was something about this insect that said ”Do not touch!” Something rather menacing.

I thought it was dead at first, but it started moving very slowly while I was photographing it. After taking the pictures, I went inside, and it was gone the next morning. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again for your hard work, and hopefully for some help with my shiny black porch insect!
Signature: Laine

Possibly Oil Beetle
Possibly Oil Beetle

Hi Laine,
We are splitting your request into two distinct postings.  We cannot say for certain what the large, black, torpedo shaped insect is, but our initial guess is possibly an Oil Beetle, a type of Blister Beetle in the genus Meloe.  We wish your photo included a view of the head.  See BugGuide to compare additional photos.

Hey Daniel-
Thanks! That’s absolutely what it was. Yeah, not my finest moment as a photographer. Ha! Thanks so much for solving this mystery for me. Just spent 15 minutes reading about oil beetles…fascinating! Thanks again!
Best,
Laine.

Letter 7 – Pine Chafer from Macedonia

Subject: Awesome bug
Location: Skopje, Macedonia
July 31, 2015 3:27 pm
Hi, I live in Skopje, Macedonia – this photos were also mine: 2009/02/09/unknown-mantis-from-macedonia/ so I think you already know my location… 🙂 I found this bug in front of my door and what got me curious was the sound it was making when we tried to move it away from our dogs so they can’t hurt it.

It sounded like it was complaining (really loudly for something so small). So, can you tell me what type of bug it is? Thanks and have a nice day…
Signature: Monika

Pine Chafer
Pine Chafer

Dear Monika,
This impressive Scarab Beetle is a Pine Chafer,
Polyphylla fullo, and according to Nature Spot:  “Stridulates loudly. Adults feed on pine needles; larvae feed on roots of sedges and grasses. The females deposit their eggs in the soil.” 

Stridulation is a noise made by rubbing together body parts, and your description of the sound is quite accurate, at least compared to the stridulation we have heard from North American Ten Lined June Beetles

The small antennae on your individual indicates it is a female, and this nice illustration on L’Arca di Noé illustrates the difference between the sexes.

Letter 8 – Last summer bore beetles…

Hello,
Last summer bore beetles wiped out half the pines in my yard. (1 acre.).Since the Florida drought is over and steady rains are back, and the pines are not as stressed as last year, will my remaining loblolly pines fight off the bore beetles naturally or do I have to spray with something.

And if I spray is it true the beetles are only on the trunk of the tree. Last but not least, what do I spray with? Thanks from Central Florida, Roger

Like many living forms, insects reach a peak population, do major damage, and then suddenly die back to a small population which takes seasons to grow large again.

The stress on the trees due to the drought combined with the population explosion of the beetles contributed to the tree loss. That population was increasing, doing hidden damage for years.

The best control is to rid the area of tainted wood from the dead trees which is harboring the pest. Chec
k with local exterminators regarding a pesticide control.

Letter 9 – Look What I Found!

I found this while visiting Vegas a couple of weeks ago. I don’t recall seeing this in ny.

It appears to be a species of Tiger Beetle, Family Cicindelidae. They are often metallic in color and are fierce hunters. They run rapidly, often in sandy areas, and they are also quick fliers. Weiping at the Natural History Museum says “This photo is not clear enough. It is hard to say it is a tiger beetle or ground beetle. For me, the body shape is closer to Calosoma sp. (Carabidae).”

Letter 10 – Male Strategus antaeus

SE TX Beetle
Could you please tell me the name of this beetle? It was found here in the pinewoods of southeast Texas in mid-June. It was found dead and in excellent condition. I want to send it to my cousin, could you tell me how I should store it to keep it preserved? Thank you for your help,
Deanna

Hi Deanna,
You have a beautiful specimen of a male Stragegus antaeus, one of the Dynastinae Scarabs. Males have three erect horns, females a single feeble one. You don’t need to do anything special to preserve it. Keep it dry and away from Dermestid Beetles which can decimate entire collections.

Letter 11 – Middle Eastern Ceruchus

mr bug man
i found this bug in a park near where i live and i have no idea what it is i live in bahrain in the middle east and i have never seen this bug beforeps it lives in the ground

Your beetle appears to be a member of the genus Ceruchus. Adults are predators and they breed in rotten wood.

Letter 12 – Middle Eastern Ceruchus

mr bug man
i found this bug in a park near where i live and i have no idea what it is i live in bahrain in the middle east and i have never seen this bug beforeps it lives in the ground

Your beetle appears to be a member of the genus Ceruchus. Adults are predators and they breed in rotten wood.

Letter 13 – Moth Night In Elyria Canyon Park

Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
July 21, 2012
As a prelude to National Moth Week, the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance partnered with What’s That Bug? by hosting a Moth Night in Elyria Canyon Park on the weekend before the official start of National Moth Week in order to accommodate the busy schedules of hosts Julian Donahue and Daniel Marlos. 

Since National Moth Week is about moths and diversity, we took this opportunity to educate those in attendance about the wealth of nocturnal life in Elyria Canyon Park.  Julian, Kathy, Lauri and Daniel arrived just before 7 PM and opened the gate so that visitors could take advantage of the event by driving into an area that is normally closed to motor vehicles. 

Setting up for the event involved getting power to three distinct sites for attracting moths with different light sources:  black or ultraviolet bulbs, incandescent bulbs and mercury vapor bulbs, and these preparations were made before sunset.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar displaying osmeterium

Just as Julian finished setting up the black light he was running off his vehicle battery, the first guest walked up.  Darlene from Torrance had arrived before us and while checking out the life in the park, she discovered the Caterpillar of an Anise Swallowtail as well as three eggs on the wild fennel. 

Darlene, an avid fan of insects, continued to capture creatures in her viewing box and her most notable finds of the day and night included a Flower Fly larva, a female Bush Katydid, a mating pair of invasive exotic African Painted Bugs, a Checkered Beetle and a winged male Sand Cockroach.  Young Julian captured a specimen of Arboreal Click Beetle with unusual feathered antennae.

The early arrivals for Moth Night approximately 8 PM

The earliest folks to arrive got a quick tour of the beginnings of the butterfly garden that the beautification committee is planting thanks to a generous grant from the North American Butterfly Association (NABA).  Gathering folks together for a group photo is kind of like trying to herd cats, but we did manage to get a few organized group shots of most of the people who arrived just before sunset. 

Julian began by giving an overview of moths, their place in the ecosystem, how to attract them and then took questions from the eager crowd.  People continued to explore the park on their own while there was still light and the youngsters started catching insects in the bottles that were provided so that they could be identified.  Refreshments were provided by MWHA Hospitality VP Susanne Brody.

Folks begin to hunt for insects and other small creatures

A skunk wandered from the nursery behind the red barn into the meadow just as darkness began to fall and this generated quite a bit of excitement.  Then the moths and other insects began to arrive to the various light sources that were designed to attract them.

Black Light and Incandescent Light area

Julian explained earlier that the best nights for mothing with lights are warm, humid, calm and moonless.  Alas, the only desirable condition we had was the fact that there was a new moon. 

A slight breeze and cooler conditions prevailed, but we were still graced with a variety of geometrids, pyralids, noctuids, tortricids, acrolophids, and tineids as well as some interesting beetles, mayflies and lacewings.  Fun was had by all of the approximately 35 people who attended Moth Night in Elyria Canyon Park.

Collecting around the mercury vapor bulb

Letter 14 – My wife found this beetle today…


My wife found this beetle today.

It was quite large, with the body around 2” long (not counting the antennae).
Thanks!
Richard
Dear Richard,
It is a beautiful photo of a COTTONWOOD BORER, Plectrodera scalator.

Letter 15 – Mystery Grub

Bugs!
Here are several pictures of invertebrates that my wife has taken. She is a sales rep for a company that sells garden products and she uses the pictures to train garden center employees to identify local pests. First, is a grub I found in my front yard here in Vancouver, Washington. It was about an inch long. My wife doesn’t know what it is. Any ideas?

The next two are photos of a slug, one in front of a measuring tape. Nearly 10 inches long! What a beaut. The last two are European crane fly, in the adult and larval stages, respectively. Just something to add to your collection.
Evan

Wow Evan,
Thanks for all the awesome images. We are starting a new page devoted to snails and slugs thanks to your great images of a Banana Slug. We aren’t sure exactly what your grub is, but it is a type of scarab. We love the image of the larval Craneflies, known as Leather Jackets.

Letter 16 – Northern Corn Rootworm

HELP! What is this bug!?
What is this little green pest? They come here in the mid-west every year around August. There are hundreds of them and they are eating all of my flowers and destroying my garden- especially my petunias and begonias! Help, what are they? Some sort of Aphid? How do I get rid of them? Thanks!

This is one of the Skeletonizing Leaf Beetles. Our suspicion is that it is the Northern Corn Rootworm, Diabrotica barberi, or a very closely related species. The larvae feed on the roots of corn, and the adults skeletonize leaves and blossoms.

Letter 17 – Northern Corn Rootworm

Little pretty green colored bug or beetle?
Location:  Fairfield, Maine USA
August 23, 2010 12:16 pm
Dear Bugman,
I found this little green bug? it was very interesting looking so I wanted to know what it could be? Can you identify it, please?
Thank you,
James R

Northern Corn Rootworm

Hi James,
This Skeletonizing Leaf Beetle is a Northern Corn Rootworm,
Diabrotica barberi and we identified it on BugGuide.

Thanks Daniel,
What an interesting name it has.
James

Hi again James,
WE did a bit more research and found information on the Illinois Integrated Pest Management website where we learned:  “Larval feeding on corn roots may reduce yields. Injured root tips feature brown lesions. In some fields, entire nodes of roots may be pruned severely.

Pruned roots are less capable of supplying water and nutrients to the growing ears and moderate to severe root pruning may result in lodging and significant losses at harvest. Larval injury also may make roots more susceptiable to root and stalk rot fungi. High adult densities may clip silks resulting in poor pollination and reduced kernel set.”

Letter 18 – Pasimachus species

Need help with a beetle ID
I came across this beetle today at Cockroach Bay preserve which is part of Tampa Bay. The reserve is near Ruskin, Florida and the beetle was in a very sandy area with some scrub grassland with intermintent wildflowers and weeds. I know much more about birds and butterflies…but from what I could gather this may be some sort of stag beetle? It was good sized…maybe 1.5 inches in length or so. Any input on this beetle would be great!
Thanks,
Colin Gjervold
Sarasota, FL

Dear Colin,
I must confess I am intrigued by a place called Cockroach Bay and I’m not entirely sure I want to visit it. Your photo, on the other hand, is a new one for us. We checked with our expert at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, Weiping, who writes: “

Sorry to answer you so late. I took yesterday off for vacation. This image is not a Dorcus parallelus. You can see five tarsi on the hind leg. I am sure it is belonging to Carabus sp. (Coleoptera: Carabidae), probably from Asia..”
Ed. Note:
(09/06/2004) Eric, another of our beetle experts, just wrote in saying: “The Carabus sp. from Cockroach Bay, FL is actually a species of Pasimachus. Neat!”
Since we always defer to more knowledgeable experts, we will include both possibilities.

Update: (08/22/2006)
Hello Lisa Anne and Daniel, I recently came across your website and I was pleased to see such a vibrant (and well-done) site. I’m an entomologist and evolutionary biologist (specializing on the systematics, taxonomy and evolution of tiger beetles and their close relatives) and I have to say that I’m impressed with your accuracy rate!

It’s much, much better than other comparable sites I’ve come across over the years. The two of you must really love insects. In any case, I noticed that you are open to information from specialists, so I thought I’d give you a few ID’s of species that I came across on your pages. I was having trouble sleeping, so I went through all of the tiger beetles, scaratines, etc and checked them out. Here you go: I’ll bookmark your site and check it out when I’m having trouble sleeping again!


“Pasimachus possibly, or Carabus species (02/29/2004) Need help with a beetle ID” This is most definitely a Pasimachus! (you can omit the exclamation point and the following if you want to print this, but that beetle is unequivocally a Pasimachus, not a Carabus.

Those two genera are very easy to separate from even a photograph on the basic of many characters such as antennal length and form, head width and shape, mandible length/shape, pronotal shape, etc.) It is Pasimachus marginatus at that, a lovely species found in Florida and other parts of the Southeast.
Daniel P. Duran
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN

Letter 19 – Picnic Beetle

Beetle
This beetle-like insect was found in a rotting osage orange in a riparian corridor of Brown County, OH on 11-04-07. As you can see in comparison to the fruit it is very small. My first thought was Carrion or Dung Beetle but they are much larger & almost endangered in this area.

I’ve looked in all the most recent books & googled images & the only other similar looking sort of is the Pleasing Fungus Beetle. Attached are 3 images. What’s that bug?
Mary Jo White

Hi Mary Jo,
Your photo is lacking in detail, but it appears the abdomen of your specimen is protruding beyond the elytra or wing covers. This exposed abdomen signals it might be a Sap Feeding Beetle in the family Nitidulidae.

There is a very close match on BugGuide, Glischrochilus fasciatus, commonly called the Picnic Beetle. According to BugGuide: “Adults found under bark of injured or dying trees, also come to sap, decaying fruit.” That is good enough for us to put our money on the ID.

Letter 20 – Pollen Beetle from Australia

Male Pollen Beetle (aussietrev)
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 8:04 PM
Hi guys,
This is a male Pollen beetle Dicranolaius bellulus in the family Melyridae (sex indicated by the enlarged 3rd segment of the antennae) Only around 8mm overall and very fast. The dark areas on the back are metallic blue/green depending on the lighting. I reckon that thorax looks like a Xmas cherry!
Happy New Year all
aussietrev
Queensland

Pollen Beetle
Pollen Beetle

Hi Trevor,
Thanks for your wonderful image of a male Pollen Beetle.  We posted three new Australian beetles to the web site today.  The Csiro Entomology web site has a drawing of this species showing the enlarged antenna segment.  We can only speculate that those enlarged antennae segments have something to do with mate location. 

The Brisbane Insect web site also has some photographs of this member of the family Melyridae, the Pollen Beetles.  This is our last posting for awhile.  We are wasting away the precious winter daylight hours in Los Angeles when we could be gardening.  We have some collard greens to harvest and much weeding to do.  Recent rains have saturated the soil and it is now the warmest day in over a week.

Letter 21 – Oak Timberworm

Unknown, Possibly a termite?
Location: Falling Waters, West Virginia
May 3, 2012 5:46 am
Hello,We have had a mild to moderate issue with medium-large sized black ants that I am assuming are ”carpenter” type ants. Then a larger bug appeared in my bed and I am wondering if it is a termite or some sort, and also what kind of ants are frequently making me use statements involving puns. They are ”bugging” me…

The assumed termite is Dark Brown, roughly 3/4 of an inch long, has six legs, Yellow Stripes/Spots on back of abdomen and Thick Pincer type jaws, and is currently only moving when i turn on the light to my digital microscope…Hopefully my pictures will help.

Isn’t it ironic that I can’t sleep with all these ants, and then i couldn’t find any live ants for the third picture? I try not to kill all of them but my chihuahuas must have gotten hungry haha. I look forward to your reply and thank you for your time
Sincerely,
Signature: -Brandon D.

Oak Timberworm

Dear Brandon,
This is not a termite.  It is a Beetle, but we don’t know which beetle.  We will continue to research this matter.

Oak Timberworm

Ed. Note:  Thanks to a comment by Bugophile, we now know that this is an Oak Timberworm, a species of Weevil.

Eric Eaton provides some information
May 5, 2012
Yes, that is a “primitive weevil,” Arrhenodes minutus, and a male (females have a longer and much more slender “snout.”  The family is Brentidae, and most members are in the tropics.  The beetles are usually found under bark, or on the exterior of logs on overcast days or at dusk.
Eric

Authors

    by
  • 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.

14 thoughts on “Do Beetles Fly? Uncovering the Mystery Behind Their Wings”

  1. Wow, I’ve seen this bug, Northern Corn Rootworm, every year I can rememer, but this year is the worst I have ever seen. The siding on my house was covered, completely. The air was thick with them, had to be in numbers approaching the national debt. Okay, maybe not that many. Any reasons for the large numbers this year?

    I live in Northwestern Illinois.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for providing the identification on the Oak Timberworm, a species of Weevil as you have indicated. We suspected this might be a Weevil, but we ran out of time trying to identify it on BugGuide and needed to go to work. Thanks so much for the assistance.

      Reply
  2. The nymph is a Zelus sp. as you suggest. In Arizona, the possibilities are essentially Z. renardii and Z. tetracanthus.

    Reply
  3. Our dogs have been digging up grubs that look a lot like these, except our grubs look brown. We do not have any compost or a lawn. Our yard basically consists of ornamental rock. We do have a Texas Ebony, a few Salvias around the yard, a couple of yuccas and an Octopus Agave. We live in Tucson, AZ and have lived in our house for 10 years and never encountered any grubs before. One of our neighbors has a fig tree and we have seen fig beetles flying around. What do you think we have?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Our dogs have been digging up grubs that look a lot like these, except our grubs look brown. We do not have any compost or a lawn. Our yard basically consists of ornamental rock. We do have a Texas Ebony, a few Salvias around the yard, a couple of yuccas and an Octopus Agave. We live in Tucson, AZ and have lived in our house for 10 years and never encountered any grubs before. One of our neighbors has a fig tree and we have seen fig beetles flying around. What do you think we have?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  5. I found the grubs on my patio there are no fig trees around and I keep finding them dead all over my patio.. they look just like the one in the pictures

    Reply
  6. I came across this post from Googling “picnic beetles.” We now live in Michigan where they are not a problem, but years ago we lived in central Ohio, and had no end of trouble with these beetles that my wife – an avoid gardener – called picnic beetles.

    They were about the size and shape of cucumber beetles (proportionately narrower than the picture) but were black, and had a white spot on each wing. They are the devil’s own spawn, eating off the plants what we eat. If there’s fruit, they eat the fruit; if you eat the leaves, they eat the leaves.

    This was over 30 years ago, and pre-internet, so I was left to my reference books to try to find a natural control, but couldn’t even find mention of them buy that name. I found a natural control by accident. I was sitting out by our garden with a glass of wine and felt something on my hand. It was a picnic beetle, apparently attracted by the smell of the wine.

    I went out a bought a couple bottles of cheap wine and poured it into a cookie sheet placed in the garden. The next day the cookie sheet was choked with drowned picnic beetles.

    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  7. Please let me know if you got rid of them… i didn’t find any mold in house, our moisture is around 50% and I still find them. It drives me crazy.

    Reply

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