Journey Into Nature’s Tiny Wonders: The Rove Beetle Life Cycle

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rove beetle life cycle

Rove beetles are fascinating insects with a unique life cycle that sets them apart from other beetle species. They are often found in various habitats, including the soil surface and under rocks or leaves. These small, predatory insects play an essential role in regulating pests and maintaining balance in ecosystems.

The life cycle of a rove beetle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adult females lay their eggs near potential food sources, ensuring that their developing offspring have access to nourishment as soon as they hatch 1. After hatching, the larvae are highly active, constantly searching for food in moist habitats like the soil or leaf litter 2.

As rove beetles grow and progress through the larval stage, they eventually pupate and transform into the adult form we commonly encounter. The entire process takes around three weeks at 77° F, making these insects efficient and quick reproducers 3. So the next time you spot a rove beetle scurrying across your garden, take a moment to appreciate its unique life cycle and the vital role it plays in maintaining ecological balance.

Identification of Rove Beetles

Identifying rove beetles can sometimes be a challenge due to their diverse appearance. However, there are some common features you can look for:

  • Color: Most rove beetles are black or brown, though some species may have a glossy black appearance.
  • Size and shape: They are typically small to medium-sized insects, with slender bodies that can vary in length.
  • Elytra: One of their distinctive features is their short, hardened wing covers (elytra) that expose a large part of their abdomen.
  • Antennae: Rove beetles have relatively long and flexible antennae, which are useful for sensing their surroundings.

Here are some points to help you identify rove beetles more easily:

  • Their elongated and narrow body shape is unique among beetles.
  • When disturbed, they often raise their abdomen in a defensive posture, similar to a scorpion.
  • They are mostly nocturnal and can be found hiding under rocks, leaf litter, or logs during the day.
  • Rove beetles are winged but prefer to run or crawl on the ground, making them quite agile.

A comparison table of two similar insects, rove beetles and ground beetles, can help you differentiate between them:

Feature Rove Beetles Ground Beetles
Body Shape Elongated and slender More oval and stout
Elytra Length Short, exposing abdomen Longer, covering abdomen
Antennae Long and flexible Shorter and stiffer
Defensive Posture Raises abdomen None

Remember, when identifying rove beetles, pay attention to their color, size, elytra, and antennae. Comparing these features with other similar insects can be helpful in confirming their identity. Don’t be afraid to take your time examining these fascinating creatures up close!

Stages of Life Cycle

Eggs Stage

Rove beetles begin their life cycle as eggs. Female adults lay eggs in small clutches near potential food sources for the larvae, such as other insects 1. You might find these eggs in sheltered, slightly moist habitats, like soil or leaf litter. They tend to hatch within 3 to 4 days4.

Larvae Stage

The larvae stage is the next step in the rove beetle life cycle. These larvae are highly active and constantly search for food within their habitats1. Most species have a diet that consists of small insects1. During this stage, they develop through three or four increasingly larger instars5.

Pupa Stage

Once the larvae have gone through their molts, they transition to the pupa stage. Similar to a cocoon, the pupa acts as a protective covering while the rove beetle undergoes more development. This is the stage where they form their adult characteristics and prepare to emerge as a mature adult2.

Adult Stage

Once fully developed, the rove beetles emerge as adults. They are commonly found on soil surfaces and in various habitats3. Adult rove beetles play an important role as predators by controlling insect populations. The entire life cycle of a rove beetle, from egg to adult, takes about three weeks at 77° F4. After maturing, females can lay approximately 8 eggs per day for the first two weeks4.

Unique Characteristics

Rove beetles are remarkable insects due to their distinct physical features and adaptability. One of the most notable characteristics of these beetles is their short wing covers, which makes them look vastly different from other beetle species. This particular feature leaves more than half of their abdomen exposed, and it contains several important segments:

  • Abdominal segments: Rove beetles typically have many abdominal segments, which aid in their flexibility and mobility. These segments allow the beetle to move quickly and efficiently when hunting for prey.
  • Tergite: The tergite is the dorsal (upper) plate on each abdominal segment. It contributes to the overall structure and protection of the rove beetle’s body.

Another unique aspect of rove beetles is their behavior. When disturbed or in motion, they often raise their abdomens, similar to a scorpion’s tail. However, they pose no threat to humans or pets, as they do not sting or bite in general.

Rove beetles can be found in various habitats, ranging from soil surfaces to moist or decaying matter. Their adaptability allows them to thrive efficiently in their surroundings.

In summary, rove beetles have distinct characteristics that set them apart from other beetle species, such as:

  • Short wing covers
  • Abundance of abdominal segments
  • Tergite on each segment

With these unique features, rove beetles are fascinating creatures known for their adaptability and interesting appearance.

Habitat and Distribution

Rove beetles can be found in various habitats across North America, including the USA. These insects thrive in moist environments and are commonly spotted in gardens. Not limited to North America, rove beetles have a wide distribution worldwide.

In your garden, you may come across these beetles as they prefer moist habitats. They typically reside in soil litter and are highly active when searching for food. Some examples of the types of environments in which they can be found are leaf litter, compost piles, and under rocks.

Their adaptability helps them thrive in various ecosystems and contribute to pest control in gardens and agricultural fields. The fact that they are predators of small insects makes them beneficial to have around. So, the next time you spot a rove beetle in your garden, remember that they are natural helpers for maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Behavior and Diet

Rove beetles exhibit fascinating behaviors and have a diverse diet. These nocturnal insects are constantly on the search for their prey, which mostly includes small invertebrates like mites, flies, and springtails. They share some similarities with ants and earwigs in appearance, but differ in several ways.

Due to their predatory nature, rove beetles are considered beneficial insects. Some species, such as Stenus and Paederus, are known for their efficiency in controlling pests. Their diet consists of other insects, making them a natural ally for gardeners and farmers.

However, it’s essential to remain cautious around certain species of rove beetles, as their bite can be painful. This is particularly true for the Paederus species, which can cause skin irritation.

To better understand the differences between rove beetles, ants, and earwigs, let’s compare them in a table:

Insect Wings Pincers Diet Behavior
Rove Beetle Short wing covers No pincers Predators Nocturnal
Ant Some have wings No pincers Scavengers Social
Earwig Hind wings Yes, large pincers Omnivorous Solitary

Key features of rove beetle behavior include:

  • Predatory nature towards small insects
  • Nocturnal activities
  • Constant search for food sources
  • Some species may bite, causing irritation

In summary, rove beetles are fascinating insects with a diverse diet, primarily consisting of various small invertebrates. They are generally considered beneficial insects due to their predatory nature, but caution is advised, as some species can deliver painful bites.

Adaptation to Environment

Rove beetles are incredible adapters to various environments. They have a unique lifestyle, interacting with mites, maggots, vegetation, parasitoids, debris, and decaying organic matter. They usually thrive during the fall and winter.

In your garden, you may encounter rove beetles hiding near vegetation, feeding on small insects such as mites and maggots. They also seek out debris and decaying organic matter, which house their prey. For example, you might see them around fallen leaves or compost piles.

As the weather turns colder in the fall and winter months, rove beetles look for shelter to survive. You might find them in leaf litter or beneath rocks, where they can escape from the cold and maintain their activity.

Their ability to adapt aids in their survival and makes them efficient predators in diverse environments. Some rove beetles even prey on parasitoids, which can be harmful to other insects and vegetation.

Highlights of Rove Beetle Adaptations:

  • Interaction with mites and maggots
  • Feeding on vegetation and debris
  • Adapting to fall and winter seasons
  • Predatory behavior towards parasitoids

In the grand scheme of the ecosystem, rove beetles play a vital role in controlling populations of potentially harmful insects, keeping your garden healthy and thriving. So, remember to appreciate these adaptable little creatures and their role in maintaining balance in the environment.

Importance in Ecosystem

Rove beetles play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Their presence is highly beneficial, as they act as a form of biological control on other insects. You can often find rove beetles searching for food in sheltered, slightly moist habitats below ground or in soil litter 1.

These beetles primarily feed on other insects such as fly larvae, which helps reduce their populations. They have strong mandibles that enable them to effectively capture and consume their prey2. By consuming these insects, rove beetles indirectly help control pests that may be damaging to plants and crops.

In addition to feeding on insects, rove beetles also consume plant matter and dung3. This makes them essential decomposers in the ecosystem. Their eating habits help break down organic materials, allowing nutrients to return to the soil.

As natural predators, rove beetles can minimize the reliance on chemical pesticides. By providing an alternative method of pest control, they promote a healthier environment and more sustainable agriculture5. Furthermore, their presence often results in a reduction of insects that transmit diseases or damage crops.

In conclusion, it is clear that rove beetles are essential for maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Their predatory nature contributes to the control of pests and reduction of chemical pesticides, making them a valuable part of sustainable agriculture.

Classifications

Rove beetles belong to the family Staphylinidae, making them a part of the Coleoptera order in the Insecta class. These beetles are unique insects with thousands of species under their family. As a reader interested in rove beetles, you would find it fascinating to learn about their diverse classifications.

The Staphylinidae family is divided into several subfamilies, each with its own set of characteristics. Some notable subfamilies are Omaliinae, Proteininae, Micropeplinae, Pselaphinae, and Scydmaeninae. You may also come across Tachyporinae, Aleocharinae, Scaphidiinae, Piestinae, Osoriinae, Oxytelinae, Megalopsidiinae, Steninae, Euaesthetinae, and Leptotyphlinae. Each of these subfamilies has unique features that distinguish them from one another.

When studying these subfamilies, you will find some common characteristics among rove beetles:

  • Elongated body
  • Short elytra (wing covers)
  • Abdominal segments exposed

It is important to remember that rove beetles are important predators in their ecosystems, playing crucial roles in controlling populations of other insects. Now that you’re familiar with some of the classifications within the Staphylinidae family, you can dive deeper into their fascinating life cycles and behaviors.

Additional Facts, Notes and Description

When it comes to the Rove Beetle family, you might encounter various genera, including Stenus, Paederus, Aleochara, and many others. They have different characteristics, behaviors, and occurrences, yet share some fascinating and unique features.

For instance, members of the Stenus genus are mostly found in moist habitats, such as near streams and ponds. Their fascinating hunting strategy involves using adhesive secretions to capture prey. Meanwhile, the Paederus genus, which is commonly known as the Creeeping Water Beetles, include species that produce a defensive chemical called pederin that causes skin irritation in humans.

On the other hand, the Aleochara genus consists of small rove beetles, many of which are considered beneficial as they prey on fly larvae and are used for biological control.

In the state of Florida, rove beetles are often found in various habitats, from forests and wetlands to gardens and homes.

Some key features of rove beetles include:

  • Elongate and slender bodies
  • Highly flexible abdomens
  • Short elytra (wing covers) exposing most of their abdominal segments
  • Wings that can be quickly unfolded for flight

Comparing three genera of rove beetles:

Genus Distribution Habitat Unique Features
Stenus Worldwide Moist habitats Adhesive secretions for hunting
Paederus Worldwide Moist habitats Pederin defensive chemical
Aleochara Worldwide Various Prey on fly larvae, used in biocontrol

So, when you come across a rove beetle, whether it’s from the Stenus, Paederus, or Aleochara genus, take a moment to appreciate their unique features, hunting strategies, and importance to ecosystems. You never know what interesting facts you might uncover about these fascinating insects.

Footnotes

  1. New Mexico State University 2 3 4 5
  2. North Carolina State University 2 3
  3. UMass Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment 2 3
  4. https://ag.umass.edu/greenhouse-floriculture/photos/rove-beetle-adult 2 3
  5. https://ipm.ucanr.edu/natural-enemies/spider-mite-rove-beetle/ 2

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 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: What’s this insect?
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
November 15, 2012 2:22 am
Found this insect in my house. Is it normal this time of year? Is it normal in my region, Cleveland? Could you tell me what it is? When confronted, it raised what I assume is its back end as if it would sting me or shoot something out. Is it anything to be concerned about?
Thanks
Signature: Rob

Rove Beetle

Hi Rob,
This is a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae, and the threat posture is common with many members of the family including the Devil’s Coach Horse.  Most Rove Beetles, including we suspect your individual, are perfectly harmless, though one genus,
Paederus, can cause contact dermatitis.  Paederus Rove Beetles sport black and red warning coloration and they are known as Creechie Bugs in Africa.

Rove Beetle in threat posture

Letter 2 – Rove Beetle

 

Found in the Back Yard – ???
April 16, 2010
We live by a creek, and my first thought was that it looks like something that spends its larval stage in the water. This was found on 4/4/2010, after we’ve had mayflies and at the same time with craneflies and dragonflies.
It didn’t seem to like being out on the concrete; it ran and buried itself in the mulch as quickly as it could. It flew around a little, but didn’t fly away.
It’s about an inch long, and sturdily built; it has a very unusual combination of features: wasp-like glossy black wings, muscular thick body, big head. It doesn’t show well in the pictures, but the rear of the abdomen almost looks fringed when it is moving.
Michael
Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff / Southern Dallas)

Rove Beetle

Dear Michael,
Your beetle is a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae.  This is a large family, and BugGuide has numerous pages with subfamilies and genera.  We will try to identify the species in the future.

Eric Eaton identifies the species
April 19, 2010
Daniel:
The rove beetle from Texas is Platydracus maculosus.  Here’s a link with more info and images:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/14441
Eric

Letter 3 – Rove Beetle

 

what’s this bug ????
This bug was crawling around our back deck on October 3rd. We live in Southeastern PA. We thought it was a wasp or something, but the wings looked way too short for flying. It crawled around for a while and then flew away when we got too close. I’ve never seen anything like it. Any ideas?

We are relatively certain this is a Rove Beetle, but the angle of the photo makes it difficult to identify the species. We will see if Eric Eaton knows. Here is what Eric has to say: “Daniel: Yes, you are correct! It is probably a specimen of Platydracus maculosus, our largest native staphylinid. They fly very well, resembling wasps while airborne! Eric”

Letter 4 – Rove Beetle

 

Bug from a pig barn
Hi Mr. Bugman,
Can you help us? Our pig barn in east-central Alberta is experiencing an increase of these black and white striped critters. They prefer dry areas with dry maure and seem to live where there are many small black beetles (coincidence?). They have short, stubby wings and can fly short distances – about 6 to 8 inches, though they much prefer walking. They are soft bodied, so don’t appear to be a beetle. These bugs have nasy little pinchers and don’t hesitate to use them! We were wondering if they were a stage of a swine parasite(?) like the bot fly is to a horse; we do de-worm regularly. Are they a predator, or nuisance? Please help because the poor thing are usually squashed on sight!
Donna

Hi Donna,
We couldn’t wait to find out what you found in the pig barn. This is a Rove Beetle. Rove Beetles are a large family, Staphylinidae, that has over 2900 species in North America. Most are predators so you can stop squishing. They might be feeding on insects and worms attracted to the manure. Eric Eaton has this to add: “The rove beetle is a specimen of the hairy rove beetle, Staphylinus maxillosus. They are most commonly found on carrion (dead animals), where they feed on fly maggots. They are strictly predatory, as you mentioned. Eric”

Letter 5 – Rove Beetle

 

Some kind of beetle?
This insect was caught in a swimming pool near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Notice the very short wing covers, from under which I unfolded the wings. The underside of the wing covers and a patch on each side of the body are very reflective (greenish yellow). Can you identify. Thanks.
Mr. Physicist

Hi Mr. Physicist,
This interesting beetle is a Rove Beetle. It took us a bit of time, but we believe this is Ontholestes cingulatus. A close-up of the head of your specimen matches an image on BugGuide. It is found near carrion and “Adults eat maggots, mites, beetle larvae. Larvae feed on carrion, fungi. “

Letter 6 – Rove Beetle

 

no idea- coppery, fuzzy, borer??
Dear Bug people-
as always, love your site. I searched your beetle pages, but can’t find a match. This bug was on the railing of our house in Nottingham, PA., for a little while. It has southern exposrue, so it was quite warm in the sun, on an otherwise cooler day (high 40s). I have no idea what it is. It was about 1 inch long, coppery colored, with some yellow on the back end. It did keep its eyes on me, and at one point raised it’s back up a little (maybe a warning posture?) I have more pictures from other angles if you’re interested. thanks
Lee Weber

Hi Lee,
This is a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae. This is a very complicated family with numerous species. We believe this might be Platydracus maculosus since it resembles an image on BugGuide. This beetle is often found on carrion.

I finally found this in the 9th beetle page! This bug was out on my porch, near the gardens, about a week ago. It was warm that day, and lots of insects were active. There is a garden right below the railing, with leaf litter and probably dead things (which I understand the rove beetle feeds on). I live in Nottingham, Pa. I have a few other pictures, if you’d like. Enjoy!!
Lee Weber

Letter 7 – Rove Beetle

 

Earwig tail, bluish wings, and attack stance
September 7, 2009
My daughter found an interesting bug. It is as big as a yellow jacket, has an ear wig tail, and has wings. Although didn’t fly away from us. As we were taking pictures the insect went into several attack stances by holding its front and middle legs at us in a curious karate kid type attack stance. I originally thought it to be some type of wasp but the pincher type tail has intrigued me.
The Freeman’s
Central Virginia

Rove Beetle
Rove Beetle

Dear Freemans,
This is a Rove Beetle.  Though we cannot say conclusively that it is a certain species, in our opinion it greatly resembles Platydracus maculosus which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 8 – Rove Beetle

 

frankenstein’s pet
September 12, 2009
I found this gal/fellow running in floppy circles around in a hole my turtle had dug days ago in the backyard, so it doesn’t seem likely that it can burrow or it would have done so to escape. It looks like it is a bad experiment in combining insect parts. It does not Look injured, but it Acts injured, or else just horribly, horribly clumsy. It keeps flopping over onto it’s back (a preferred position?) although it does not seem to be able to move around that way as some grubs do. It keeps assuming a posture with it’s rump raised, head bucked thorax up and head down, and little front four “arms” raised, hind legs down on the “knees” and the barbed feet raised. I guess this may be a defensive posture though it looks useless. It has very shiny black wi ngs (but doesn’t fly) and the rest is a somewhat velvety though not furry looking beige. Oh, and it is fairly aggressive as it ran at and bit a hapless worm sharing the container I first dumped it into… It made no attempt to cling on to or consume the worm so I think it was just acting out anger at being dumped into the pot. What is this critter?
ToadShade
Virginia, Prince William county

Rove Beetle
Rove Beetle

Dear ToadShade,
This is some species of Rove Beetle, possibly Platydracus maculosus.  According to BugGuide, it feeds on carrion.

Letter 9 – Rove Beetle

 

Blue Wings
Location: Wheeling, West Virginia
May 14, 2011 5:28 pm
I trapped this guy at the end of my driveway after coming home.
I did some research, and it looks like a Devil’s Coach-horse Beetle, but has a blue tint to its wings. When it walked around under the glass, the thorax was lifted in the air, which reminds me of a scorpion. The face looks like an ant, but the rest looks like a giant bee. It was about 1.5 inches long too!
Is it dangerous? Is it common to this area?
Thanks!
Signature: Jerry

Rove Beetle

Hi Jerry,
Your observations that this is similar to the Devil’s Coach Horse are quite astute, because it is in the same family, Staphylinidae, the Rove Beetles.  Furthermore, we believe it belongs in the subfamily Staphylininae, the Large Rove Beetles, but we are not certain of the exact species.
Platydracus maculosus, which we found on BugGuide, looks quite similar.  The blue wings are most likely the result of the reflection of the sky in the membranous hindwings, the true flying wings for beetles which generally have forewings that are hardened and called elytra.  Rove Beetles are distinguished by short elytra that generally don’t completely cover the hindwings, revealing much of the abdomen.  Perhaps someone with more experience will be able to provide us with the correct species name.

Letter 10 – Rove Beetle

 

Is this a Devil’s Coach Horse?
Location: Wright County, MN
February 21, 2012 11:16 pm
My wife freaked out last night when this bug started jumping around by her drawing table. It had a stance like a scorpion after I finally caught it. It seemed to have wings but it only flew (more like a jump) at a short distance like a pheasant. At first I thought it was an ant because of the head and jaws. Than I noticed on its tail it had two antenna type thingys. Sorry for the poor photos but it would not listen very well and stay still. Oh yeah, its also black, brown at tip of tail, and antenna’s on its head as well. Thanks.
Signature: Alan Gunderson

Rove Beetle

Hi Allen,
While this is not a Devil’s Coach Horse, a much larger species, you are correct that your individual is in the same family.  Rove Beetles are a very large family and we will not be able to provide you with a more specific identification.

Letter 11 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: Insect ID please
Location: Easy Bay, Bay Area California USA
May 26, 2013 2:56 pm
Hi,
In the last few weeks (mid May 2013 on) we have had 10-12 of these insects coming up from holes in our lawn. The majority seem to be without wings and also seem sickly, as they have trouble moving around. When they first appear from under the grass they are wingless. The attached photos show one of the less common (for us) winged forms. All of them we have seen have places for wings, but I can’t tell if the wings haven’t erupted yet, or if they have been broken off. We live in the East Bay of the Bay Area in California. Our yard has many trees and bushes as well as many older partially rotten hedges. The attached images also gives an idea of the size, as the individual shown is next to typical sunflower seeds. Sorry if it is hard to see, but these guys do not like being messed with and thrash around and place their legs above their bodies when I try to move them.
Thanks for any help you can give!
Signature: Becca

Rove Beetle
Rove Beetle

Dear Becca,
You have submitted a photo of a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae, and we believe it is one of the Large Rove Beetles in the subfamily Staphylininae (see BugGuide).  Rove Beetles are soft bodied beetles without the hard elytra or wing covers that typify most beetles.  The flight wings are normally hidden which is why you have observed both winged and unwinged individuals.  Rove Beetles are harmless predators that help to control populations of other insects.  Your submission will not go live until early June.  We will be away from the office and we are postdating some submissions so our site will have daily updates during our absence.

Letter 12 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: Does this bug sting?
Location: east central PA
October 3, 2013 7:48 pm
My friend saw this bug crawling in the grass around her home in central PA. She’s never seen this before and neither have I.
Signature: Denise

Rove Beetle
Rove Beetle

Dear Denise,
This is a Rove Beetle, but we are uncertain of the species.  We love the aggression of Rove Beetles, but except for the Creechies, Rove Beetles are harmless and do not sting.  Our favorite Rove Beetle is probably the Devil’s Coach Horse.  Your Rove Beetle somewhat resembles
 Platydracus maculosus which is pictured on BugGuide.

Thank you very much.  I’m glad it’s not the Creechie species!  One question though: The thorax on the bug she saw was not smooth and seemed to have a blackish/blue something on it.  Does this beetle molt?   Or perhaps it was injured and the exoskeleton is ripped partly away?

Adult beetles do not molt.  Perhaps you are seeing the flight wings which are hidden beneath the short elytra.

Letter 13 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: No Idea
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
April 1, 2014 6:22 pm
What is this bug?
Signature: Bradley

Gold and Brown Rove Beetle
Gold and Brown Rove Beetle

Dear Bradley,
Your image is blurry, but the contours and coloration of this Gold and Brown Rove Beetle,
Ontholestes cingulatus, are unmistakeable.  Like other Rove Beetles, Gold and Brown Rove Beetles are beneficial predators.

Letter 14 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: Weird Bug That Flies and Terrifies
Location: Asheville, NC
June 5, 2015 2:21 pm
I saw this waiting at the bus stop, took a picture because it was entirely unfamiliar. Then it flew away and I shuddered and hoped it wouldn’t return. But it was cool, I just don’t think I want anything to do with it (but I was curious).
Signature: Wesley Stroupe

Rove Beetle
Rove Beetle

Dear Wesley,
This is a harmless Rove Beetle, and after scouring through images on BugGuide, we suspect it might be
Platydracus immaculatus, which according to BugGuide is:  “now infrequently collected over much of its range.”  We are postdating you submission to go live during our holiday later in June.

 

Letter 15 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: Bug identification
Location: Clemson sc
January 4, 2016 9:58 am
Hi a friend found this bug and we can’t figure out what kind it is some people are saying mole cricket but this bug only has 4 legs and the head is different than that of a mole cricket.
Signature: Anna

Rove Beetle: Platydracus maculosus
Rove Beetle: Platydracus maculosus

Dear Anna,
This is a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae.  We believe we have correctly identified it as
 Platydracus maculosus thanks to this image on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, it prefers:  “primarily, deciduous forests and open areas: on carrion/dung, in leaf litter, rotting fungi.”

 

Letter 16 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: Can’t Identify
Location: Montrose, Pennsylvania
June 27, 2016 10:46 am
Hi! I live in a rural, farm rich area of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I found this flying insect on my deck steps. At first, I thought it was dead but after a few pictures, it flew away. I’ve never seen one before & couldn’t find an exact match to identify it. Would you happen to know what it is? P.S., this was found on a rainy, warm June day when the farmers next door were bailing hay~ Thank you!
Signature: Amy M. Newhart

Rove Beetle
Rove Beetle

Dear Amy,
This is a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae, and while we are not certain of the species, it does appear as though it might be
Platydracus maculosus based on this BugGuide image.

Letter 17 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: Black Bug with Stinger
Location: Tacom, WA
July 21, 2016 10:25 pm
Help! Looking to identify this bug, found him and a few of his friends in the last week in our basement. About an inch, six legs with a possible small stinger. Found in Tacoma, Washington this summer.
Signature: Mindy

Rove Beetle
Rove Beetle

Dear Mindy,
This is some species of Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae, possibly
 Ocypus aeneocephalus which is pictured on BugGuide and is an introduced species in your area.

Letter 18 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: Classic bug under a log
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
May 10, 2017 3:03 pm
Hello bugman, me an my girlfriend were out on an adventure flipping rocks and logs when we came across this little guy. I’ve been flipping rocks for many years now and don’t recall ever seeing this type of insect. When it moved it had its rear end in the air.
Signature: Kevin & Amber

Rove Beetle

Dear Kevin & Amber
This is a magnificent Rove Beetle.  We started by searching through Arthur V. Evans excellent book Beetles of North America where we identified this Rove Beetle as
Platydracus maculosus, a species that unfortunately has no common name.  Evans writes:  “the largest rove beetle in North America. … Adults active spring and summer, attracted to carrion, decaying fungi, and dung.”  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.

Letter 19 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Boulder Colorado
August 6, 2017 1:56 pm
It does not have pinchers. Not an earwig and the legs are not long enough to be a nymph assassin bug. It was outside and not a threat to me but I’m just really curious what it is.
Signature: Michelle

Rove Beetle

Dear Michelle,
WE believe, based on this BugGuide image, that your Rove Beetle is
Platydracus immaculatusBugGuide states its habitat is “open habitats, esp. stony areas with sandy soil” and that it is “now infrequently collected over much of its range.”  This Rove Beetle poses no threat to you.

Letter 20 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject:  Strange Flyer Dances into my Curiosity
Geographic location of the bug:  Gloucester, Va
Date: 08/14/2019
Time: 07:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This odd creature flew into my phone, bounced off & landed in front of me. It then proceeds to waggle it’s purplish wings & tasseled abdomen at me before retracting it’s wings (somewhere!) Only to produce them once again & promptly take off. It’s a hot and steamy August here in Virginia. I’ve been a keen observer of nature all of my life & can honestly say, this one has stumped me completely. Hope you guys can help me out!
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks a bunch! Holly G

Rove Beetle

Dear Holly,
You have good reason for being stumped.  This is a Rove Beetle in the family Staphylinidae, and many members of the family look very different from the “typical” beetle.  Unfortunately, BugGuide is currently experiencing technical difficulty and we cannot search for the species, but luckily, we were able to identify it as 
Platydracus maculosus in Beetles of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans where it states it is:  “the largest rove beetle in North America.”  The image with its abdomen curled up is a typical threat posture for many Rove Beetles.

Rove Beetle

Letter 21 – Rove Beetle

 

Subject:  Weird flying bug wandering aimlessly, crawls fast
Geographic location of the bug:  Northwest Michigan
Date: 07/11/2020
Time: 05:13 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Kinda a scary bug. Not sure if it’s a wood eater looking to destroy my house?  An earwig?  Does it bite or sting?  He kept circling me and landing near me and chasing me. Maybe he just had a missing antennae and couldn’t steer
How you want your letter signed:  C

Gold and Brown Rove Beetle

Dear C,
Few people would recognize this as a Beetle, because it does not resemble most beetles.  This is a Gold and Brown Rove Beetle,
Ontholestes cingulatus, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Eggs are laid near carrion or fungi; pupate in chambers in soil nearby”  It will not harm your home.

Letter 22 – Rove Beetle and a Happy Ending!

 

Hi, I’m new to your site. Very cool!!
I have a huge “Bug-Phobia”, I hate all types of bugs. Yet, I am extremely fascinated with them. I am deathly afraid of spiders and wasps, but given a situation where I feel “safe” I can’t help but sit and stare at the creatures. (Avert your eyes) The only bug that I hate enough to actually kill without provocation is the Black Widow spider, I was bitten by one when I was 14 and I haven’t recovered from the fear of seeing a dark bruise travel up my thigh and not being able to seek medical help.
Anyways, I found a huge ant looking beetle type thing crawling on my carpet, and rather than immediately squish it and move on, I decided to find out what it was. I stumbled across your site and quickly ID’d it as a Rove Beetle. After reading all about them, I promptly returned him to the garden, where my wife had been working earlier. Hopefully this will make up for some of my anti-bug karma.
Thanks,
Gabe Pari
Ontario, California

Dear Gabe,
I’m happy our site managed to keep one more Devil’s Coach Horse alive in the world. We at the WTB offices don’t kill Black Widows. We let them spin their webs and enjoy watching them. They don’t wander much, so we don’t fear them crawling into our beds, and we don’t leave our shoes where they can crawl inside. They are shy spiders and are not aggressive, and only bite when threatened. We have also learned to use gloves when rooting through the firewood pile and never put our hands under the water heater until we look first.

Letter 23 – Rove Beetle and a Happy Ending!

 

Hi, I’m new to your site. Very cool!!
I have a huge “Bug-Phobia”, I hate all types of bugs. Yet, I am extremely fascinated with them. I am deathly afraid of spiders and wasps, but given a situation where I feel “safe” I can’t help but sit and stare at the creatures. (Avert your eyes) The only bug that I hate enough to actually kill without provocation is the Black Widow spider, I was bitten by one when I was 14 and I haven’t recovered from the fear of seeing a dark bruise travel up my thigh and not being able to seek medical help.
Anyways, I found a huge ant looking beetle type thing crawling on my carpet, and rather than immediately squish it and move on, I decided to find out what it was. I stumbled across your site and quickly ID’d it as a Rove Beetle. After reading all about them, I promptly returned him to the garden, where my wife had been working earlier. Hopefully this will make up for some of m
y anti-bug karma.
Thanks,
Gabe Pari
Ontario, California

Dear Gabe,
I’m happy our site managed to keep one more Devil’s Coach Horse alive in the world. We at the WTB offices don’t kill Black Widows. We let them spin their webs and enjoy watching them. They don’t wander much, so we don’t fear them crawling into our beds, and we don’t leave our shoes where they can crawl inside. They are shy spiders and are not aggressive, and only bite when threatened. We have also learned to use gloves when rooting through the firewood pile and never put our hands under the water heater until we look first.

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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts
Tags: Rove Beetles

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11 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi, I am in CT and I believe I found this inside where I work, it had a threatening pose as described, and it was about 1.5 cm long. I did not think they were in Connecticut. Is there a way to post a picture?
    -Robin

    Reply
  • Alright, Thank you, I did.

    Reply
  • Alfred F Newton
    June 3, 2013 7:59 am

    Yes, this is Ontholestes cingulatus. Note the large head (wider than pronotum) and large eyes. It is typically found near dung or carrion, where it picks off incoming flies. It is very fast and a visual hunter.

    Reply
    • Thank you for this and all other Rove Beetle identification comments. We have been away from the office during June and we have just returned and are approving your comments.

      Reply
  • Hi! I am a student at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. In my Organismal Biology class we are required to create a website on a type of animal. Because of copyright issues, permission must be obtained from the original source in order for us to use the images that we will put on our webpage. The page we create will be viewable to the public as part of a larger project at MultipleOrganisms.net. The website will have nothing to do with my school. The image that I would like to use is on http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2012/11/15/rove-beetle-12/ “Rove Beetle” If you could please reply letting me know if it is okay if we post this picture on our website, and who we should credit with the creation of this image, that would be great! Your time is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Megan

    Reply
    • Dear Megan,
      You have our permission to use these images from this particular posting, however we have better images of the threat posture of a Devil’s Coach Horse here and here on our website. If you decide one of those images is better, please include a comment on that posting as well as any other posting you would like to borrow. As far as the photo credit goes, in this example you can say photo © Rob and courtesy of http://www.whatsthatbug.com

      Reply
  • Found many of this kind of bugs eating soft wood in a large house
    will try to send some pictures see if it helps..
    Rove beetle????

    Reply
  • Just saw a Rover Beetle like this in Beauly, Scotland. Glad to know it is not a wood-borer as far as I could make out. Lifted it’s tail if it felt threatened while walking.

    Reply
  • Thanks to WTB for this ID, and to the Tacoma person who supplied this photo. Found one of these cuties on our (similar) carpeting in our media room here in rural Thurston County. It didn’t arch up like I recalled Devil’s Coachman bugs doing. It also was shinier and larger than I remember those.

    My memory said “rove beetle” but my Audubon bug book showed something very unlike I remembered. A bit of digging, and once again WTB came through.

    While this lil guy was in a juice glass awaiting identification, it sat quite calmly then groomed its face, forelegs, and antennae. That was pretty cute. When spruce and tidy it looked all around curiously but didn’t panic or anything. When we took it outside to our south alder-maple-fir woods and released it into our big brush pile, it slid awkwardly out of the glass onto leaf litter, flipping onto its back…then did a most graceful sideways twist before pouring itself down into the fallen autumn leaves. Such a nice little bug!

    Reply
  • The Rove Beatles from Indonesia called tomcat Beatles are very poisonous there blood is chemical toxin pederin.

    Reply

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