Dealing with a rove beetle infestation can be quite a challenge, but understanding their habits and implementing effective solutions can keep your home and garden pest-free. These predatory insects are often found on the soil surface in various habitats and may look a bit like small scorpions due to their short wing covers and habit of raising their tails when running or disturbed .
Rove beetles are commonly found near compost piles, rocks, or logs, where they can quickly move around and feed on other insects. Though fierce-looking, most rove beetle species are not harmful to humans . However, they can become a nuisance when their population grows out of control.
Understanding Rove Beetles
What Are Rove Beetles?
Rove beetles are insects belonging to the family Staphylinidae. This family is a part of the Coleoptera order, which houses numerous beetle species.
Rove beetles are predators, and they mostly feed on small insects.
Habitat and Distribution
- Found under debris and rocks, near water sources
- Located in compost and piles of decaying material
- Can be found in the crop canopy
Having a diverse range of environments, they are highly adaptable insects and are commonly found around North American landscapes.
Rove beetles have some distinct features that set them apart from other beetles:
- Elongated bodies
- Short front wings, exposing a large part of their abdomen
- Slender and dark in color, often black or brown
- Range in size from ¼ to 1 inch in length
Comparison: Rove Beetles and Earwigs
|Abdomen Exposure||Over half||Minimal|
|Color||Black or Brown||Dark Brown to Reddish-brown|
Rove beetles may look similar to earwigs due to their elongated bodies, but they lack the large pincers found on earwigs. They’re also more commonly found in habitats like compost and decaying material, while earwigs have a higher tendency to become household pests.
Life Cycle and Diet
Eggs and Larvae
Rove beetles have a simple life cycle that starts with the eggs. Female rove beetles lay their eggs in well-hidden areas such as cracks, leaf litter, or rotten wood, where their prey are abundant. Upon hatching, the larvae rely on a diet of tiny arthropods, including mites found in their immediate environments. These small insects have strong mandibles, allowing them to consume their prey efficiently.
After growing and molting through several larval stages, rove beetle larvae enter the pupation stage. Pupae can be found in similar habitats as the eggs and larvae, such as leaf litter and decaying plant matter. During this phase, they undergo a transformation into adult beetles while remaining relatively immobile. In the right environmental conditions, pupation is completed within a few weeks.
Adult Rove Beetles
Adult rove beetles continue to live in similar habitats as their earlier life stages. They are known to consume various types of prey, including:
- Small insects
- Bark beetles
- Decaying organic matter
These predatory beetles can become a nuisance in gardens and homes, especially if their populations grow unchecked. However, they also serve as a form of biological pest control, as they prey on other harmful pests in their environment.
Rove beetles are increasingly common in North America, with over 1000 species known to reside in the region. They are a highly adaptable group of insects, able to survive and thrive in diverse environments across the world. To summarize, the life cycle and diet of rove beetles are:
|Eggs||Cracks, leaf litter||N/A|
|Larvae||Cracks, leaf litter||Mites, small arthropods|
|Pupae||Leaf litter, decay||N/A|
|Adults||Various||Insects, decay, fungi|
It’s important to understand the life cycle and diet of rove beetles for effective pest management strategies in and around your home or garden.
Impact on Plants and Environment
Rove Beetles in Gardens
Rove beetles can often be found in gardens, usually on the soil surface. They have short wing covers that expose their abdominal segments, giving them a similar appearance to earwigs. In gardens, they tend to hide during winter and become more active in warmer months.
Benefits of Rove Beetles in Gardens:
- Prey on several garden pests like aphids, slugs, and snails
- Contribute to the natural balance of garden ecosystems
Drawbacks of Rove Beetles in Gardens:
- Some may cause damage to plant roots
- Can sometimes be confused with harmful pests
Effect on Crop Production
Rove beetles are both beneficial and harmful to crop production, depending on the species. While many species are helpful in controlling pests, some can feed on plant matter, leading to root damage.
- Control pests like root maggots that damage crops
- Reduce the need for chemical pesticides
- Some species may damage crop roots
- May not provide full pest control on larger crop fields
Beneficial Aspects of Rove Beetles
Rove beetles are useful in various environments due to their feeding habits. They help control populations of pests like mites, aphids, and bark beetles, keeping plant damage to a minimum. Additionally, some species of rove beetles contribute to pollination, supporting plant growth and reproduction.
Examples of Beneficial Rove Beetle Functions:
- Pest control for a variety of insects
- Supporting pollination in plants like Magnolias
Comparison of Rove Beetles and Other Beneficial Insects:
|Insects||Pest Control Abilities||Pollination Contribution||Soil Improvement|
Rove Beetle Control and Removal
Prevention and Deterrent Measures
- Maintain cleanliness in your garden and home
- Remove piles of leaves and debris
- Seal gaps and cracks in your home’s foundation
Preventing rove beetles from invading your space begins with cleanliness. By maintaining a tidy garden and home, you eliminate potential hiding spots and habitats for these pests. Remove piles of leaves and debris from your property, as these can provide an attractive shelter for rove beetles. Additionally, sealing gaps and cracks in your home’s foundation will help stop them from entering indoors.
Chemical Control Methods
- Insecticides like pyrethroids
- Pesticide sprays
When dealing with a significant infestation, chemical control methods, such as the use of insecticides like pyrethroids, may be necessary. Applying pesticide sprays can also help eliminate rove beetles, but use these chemicals sparingly, as they may also affect beneficial insects.
Natural Control Methods
- Attracting beneficial insects
- Using diatomaceous earth
Opting for natural control methods can minimize harm to your environment. Attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, which feed on pests like aphids, will help keep the rove beetle population under control, as the competition for food can deter them. Another option is using diatomaceous earth, a natural substance that can be sprinkled in areas with rove beetle activity, helping to control the population by damaging their exoskeletons.
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 – Paederus Rove Beetle: Creechie Bug
Strange Bug in Ethiopia
I am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and we have seen a few of these bugs around our house. An Ethiopian has told us they are "very bad", but couldn’t tell me why they are very bad. It looks like they might have a stinger on the end. Please reply because I need to know if we should tell our kids to avoid these. They are about 3/4" long. Puzzled in Ethiopia,
In January of 2008, we received a letter and images from missionaries in Cameroon, and the subject was the Creechie Bug or Paederus Rove Beetle. This is your insect and it is known to cause contact dermatitis. We found a website called DocFiles that confirms this.
Letter 2 – Paederus Rove Beetles from Singapore: Can Cause Contact Dermatitus
Black & Orange Insect
Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 7:07 PM
Dear WTB, I received an email from my husband, saying that this insect is dangerous. I’ve always been fascinated by different types of insects, so I believe he may have sent it to me to warn me not to touch it. But he only gave me the photo and nothing else. I want to find proof and more info that this insect is dangerous, instead of being misinformed. Hence, I hope you can help me. I really appreciate it. Thank you.
Your photos represent some species of Rove Beetle in the genus Paederus. We first became aware of these insects when we received a submission from Africa that called them Creechies. Paederus Rove Beetles can cause serious contact dermatitus, so in that sense they are dangerous. Thanks for sending us photos of representatives of the genus from Singapore. The Dermatology Online Journal has an excellent article on dermatitus caused by Paederus Rove Beetles in Sierra Leone.
Letter 3 – Potó from Brazil
Location: Northeastern Brazil
July 18, 2011 5:31 pm
I lived in Northeastern Brazil for 2 years in the states of Bahia and Pernambuco. I never saw this bug but I have been burned by it twice in the middle of the night. The Brazilians call it ”potó” but I was wondering what the English name is. It crawls on you and leaves an acid trail where it crawled (The Brazilians say it pees on you, not sure if it is actually urinating. I would like some clearing up on that too) that burns you and has a couple stages. the first stage is that it turns red and swells a bit. the second stage is that it ends up looking like a line of white-head zits, and the third stage is that you get a big scab in the shape of a line where the trail is. There’s all of the information that I have on it. I googled it and got these pictures, but I have also heard from the brazilians that it is a spider. Thanks!
This is a Rove Beetle in the genus Paederas, and they are found in many parts of the world. In Cameroon they are known as the Creechie Bug, and the fluid they secrete can cause a serious case of contact dermatitis. Here is a link to the first image of a Creechie Bug we received in 2008. We like the Brazilian name Potó.
Letter 4 – Large Rove Beetle
Subject: Termite? Mutant earwig? Snakefly larva?
Location: Outside Boston, MA
December 21, 2012 10:56 am
I just found this guy on the ground outside our back door in the western suburbs of Boston. It’s about 1.5cm long, with a fairly flat profile that doesn’t seem as plump or lobular in the abdomen as I imagine a termite would be. But I have some concern that it may, in fact, be a termite alate. Can you weigh in on this?
Thanks for your help!
Though it doesn’t resemble the typical beetle, this Large Rove Beetle is a beetle nonetheless. It appears it may be Ocypus nitens which, according to BugGuide, is: “Native to Europe. Seems to be a rather recent introduction in ne. US.” It has been reported in Massachusetts. BugGuide does not discuss their eating habits, but Rove Beetles are predators. A relative in the same genus, the Devil’s Coach Horse, is also native to Europe and has been introduced to the west coast of North America where it is reported to feed on the introduced Brown Snail, according to BugGuide which quotes Dr. Margaret Thayer.
Letter 5 – Paederus Rove Beetle from Malaysia: Cari-Cari
Hi, in need of urgent identification
Location: Penang, Malaysia
August 29, 2010 4:37 am
Hi, this bug has been causing havoc over here in the northern region of Malaysia, particularly in Perlis and Penang. Please help me identify it mr bugman 🙂
Kelvim, the pharmacist
Your insect is a Rove Beetle in the genus Paederus and merely handling it or having it walk across a person’s body is enough to result in a severe case of contact dermatitis. Our first several letters regarding the Paederus Rove Beetles came from Africa where its warning coloration and unique defense system have earned it the local name of Creechie Bug. While doing additional research for our response to you, we found a website called DOCFILES with many photos of the Paederus Rove Beetle and the resulting contact dermatitis, and the page begins with this information: “The Rove beetle that is increasingly common in Malaysia. Their bodies contain the toxin paederin (hence Paederous dermatitis) that causes burns on human skin whenever they are crushed. Interestingly the beetles were used to burn off warts in the past. It starts off with some erythema/redness and then with patches of ulceration where the beetle has been crushed.” There are numerous comments posted regarding remedies for the contact dermatitis posted to the site. It is quite interesting to us that the image you provided appears to be a very degraded version of the exact image on the DOCFILES page. We are also intrigued by the title of the digital file you supplied for us to identify. What is the origin of the name Cari-Cari? Is that a local name for the Paederus Rove Beetle?
I am delighted at the prompt response and information you have
given me. This will indeed aid me in treating and informing my
customers. The file name was typed in by myself, as the locals call it
“cari-cari” (in the malay dialect they like to repeat words as names
i.e. orang-orang, ubur-ubur).
Regarding the photo file of the rove beetle found in DOCFILES, it
IS extremely similar with the file I sent you. However, after close
examination using the superimpose technique in photoshop, i found that
they ARE different. Besides, the background is different too. This is
the add from where i got the photo
If you DO happen to come by any different treatment options or
ways to control the spread of this bug, please do let me know.
Thanks a million for what you have provided me! 🙂
Sorry for some “misinformation”
The word “cari-cari” is actually a malaysianised pronunciation of
“charlie”. Don’t ask me why charlie, but the locals also call it semut
Letter 6 – Rove Beetle
Help, need to know what this is so i know kids will be ok hunting bugs
Location: Chatham, Ontario, Canada
November 6, 2011 11:39 am
Hello, i was wondering if you could possibly help me out on this bug. I scared me a little when i trapped it to get a better look at it. The back end went up like a scorpions would. It does have wings buy they are tucked into its back, i see them out once. I have the picture on facebook so maybe others could help, but no one knew but one did say that they seen them in their back yard as well. I have 3 small children and i need to know if these bugs will harm them.
Signature: Carly Reeson
This is a harmless beneficial Rove Beetle. Rove Beetles are beneficial because they are predators that keep down the populations of potentially problematic creatures in the yard and garden. We believe this might be Platydracus maculosus or a closely related species based on this photo from BugGuide. The threat posture you described is quite typical of Rove Beetles, and it causes many people to suspect that they are capable of stinging, which they are not. Some Rove Beetles do release a foul odor upon striking that threat posture.
Letter 7 – Irish Rove Beetle: Possibly Endangered Species???
I found this strange looking insect in the back garden. I am living in Galway, Ireland. I was wondering if you might be able to identify it ? I found it in the dogs food bowl. When I lifted it out of the bowl its back end lifted up into the air like a scorpion. Is it a harmful insect or is it a friendly. From looking at other sites it seems to be of the "Devils Coach Horse" family or could it be a Rove Beetle "platydracus stercorarius". I looked at some web site photo’s but none of them would have the colours like the one I found. Please find attached some photo’s of this insect. (note-I have cut the pictures from the original)
Thanking you in advance,
PS- What a great Site !!!
We agree that this is one of the Rove Beetles in the family Staphylinidae. The Devil’s Coach Horse, Ocypus olens (formerly Staphylinus olens), is a species of Rove Beetle introduced to the U.S. from Europe, but it is all black. In an effort to locate your species we did a google search of Rove Beetle Ireland and keep finding information about the endangered and possibly extinct Stenus palposus, but we cannot find a photo or description. If you properly identify your Rove Beetle or find an image of Stenus palposus, please provide us with a link.
Just to let you know I have spent the 12 hours or so trying to get more information on this Rove Beetle. From browsing all the different sites I now believe it is a STAPHYLINUS CAESAREUS BEETLE. There is at least 3 beetles that look very alike but when you closely look at the details they are all slightly different. The 3 different beetles are the Staphylinus Caesareus, Staphylinus Dimididiaticornis and the Staphylinus Erythropterus. I believe the match is the Staphylinus Caesareus ??? I have found several web sites with some very good photo’s and to be honest they seem to be very alike. I have also e-mailed some other government nature web sites etc..In Ireland & the UK to see if they can provide some information. I have also asked them if they can provide a photo of a Stenus palposus. I will let you know if they reply. If this is indeed a STAPHYLINUS CAESAREUS BEETLE can you tell me if this is also an Endangered Species ? From some of the UK web sites it classes it as a RDBI class ..Meaning “Probably extinct in Britain”. Please find attached some of the links I have found. I would be grateful if you might let me know what you think. Thanking you in advance
Wow, you did an amazing research job. Sadly, we aren’t prepared to give you a definitive answer, but we suspect your suspicion that this is probably Staphylinus caesareus is probably correct. Thank you for providing the site with common UK beetles that is labled National Insect Week. Now we are curious about the UK National Insect Week. Let us know what you find out from the government agency.
Letter 8 – Large Rove Beetle
May 18, 2011 8:45 am
These images were taken on 5.18.2011 in Minnesota, east of Minneapolis about 20 miles, and although the image quality isn’t very good, I was hoping to learn what it is. It was rather large, perhaps 3 inches. It’s hard to see but on the side view image it looks as though there’s a good size hole in the abdomen, but that could just be an illusion because of the angle and poor image quality. At first I thought it was an Odonata excuviea but ruled it out. Then I thought it might be a click beetle, but I don’t think it is.
I looked on Bug Guide, but wasn’t able to ID this bug. So, I hoping you may be ab;e to shed some light on this ugly, but fascinating little bug
Even though you were unable to properly identify this Rove Beetle, we are impressed that you recognized it as a beetle as Rove Beetles do not resemble most beetles as they lack hard elytra. It looks similar to Platydracus maculosus which is pictured on BugGuide, but we would not entirely discount that it might be a Brown and Gold Rove Beetle, Ontholestes cingulatus, which is also pictured on BugGuide. Rove Beetles are a large family and your individual might be in an entirely different genus. Since your image is several years old, this is not a timely or seasonal posting. We are preparing several posts to go live while we are away from the office in early January, so you will be able to find this posting on our site in the coming week.
Thank you so much for your speedy reply and information. I don’t often see beetles of any kind and certainly not as large as this, at least not alive!
Thanks again, Bugman!
Laura from Mound Mn
Letter 9 – Paederus Rove Beetle from Canada
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
June 8, 2015 4:46 pm
Our biology class did a lab at one of the beaches in Nova Scotia, Canada. Well doing this lab our group found this small black and reddish brown bug well we were examining a part of the beach.
Signature: – Bio Student
Dear Bio Student,
Your insect is unmistakably a Rove Beetle in the genus Paederus, and according to BugGuide: “some species contain a toxic chemical (pederin) in their hemolymph which causes contact dermatitis in humans, usually as a result of slapping the beetle and crushing it against exposed skin. The affected area becomes red, swollen, and itchy, causing the skin to peel when scratched.(3) Extracts of Paederus beetles have been used by the Chinese since at least 739 AD in the medicinal treatment of boils, nasal polyps, and ringworm.” BugGuide also indicates: “15 spp. in our area, >600 worldwide(1), just one (P. littorarius) reaches Canada” which would mean your species is Paederus littorarius. The genus has representatives in many places around the world, and those in Africa are known as Creechies or Acid Bugs because of the caustic chemical they release and the contact dermatitis that results.
Letter 10 – Paederus Rove Beetle from India
Orange black flying Insect
December 11, 2009
this is one insect which really troubles us a lot in winter, it is very attracted to light and is about 5mm in length. it also come in full black body(without the orange), i tried to find the name of this insect so many times still no hope. please help me out. We stay near the Silent Valley in India so we get to lots of insects form the forest..some really scary..and there is one insect which burns the skin; the skit totally burns off and the affected area become red..then turns black like how a wound would heal and then new skin is formed in a week it pours some kinda acid…usually in the night while we sleep…some tell it is this insect can you help us out here…
The insect pictured is your guilty culprit. It is a Rove Beetle in the genus Paederus. This genus is found in many places in the world, and they often sport the orange and black warning colors. The genus name comes from the presence of the toxin paederin in the body which will cause contact dermatitis. Now that you have a name, you should be able to find copious amounts of online information including this DocFiles page.
Letter 11 – Rove Beetle
Dear ‘Swamped-thing’, er . . .Bugman:0)
I don’t doubt that you’re swamped as many of us are now addicted to your terrific site. Went to a Baptism in Dayton Ohio and this uninvited guest showed up on cup of beverage covered with condensation. (We were in a downstairs room) On closer look it seems the bug is interested in a drop of the beverage that somehow made its way onto the outside of the cup. Any thoughts? Thanks for your help.
We are really bogged down for sure. We received over 60 letters today and we will only be able to post two or three. That said, choosing what to read is often very arbitrary. We just loved your subject line, hence you caught our attention. This is some species of Rove Beetle, but we don’t even want to attempt a species name as so many look nearly identical.