Related topics: species · insects

Burying beetle larvae know the best time to beg for food

It's easy to imagine an adult bird standing over youngsters whose mouths are open wide for a pre-mashed meal. It's more difficult to picture a beetle doing the same thing, but the burying beetle Nicrophorus quadripunctatus ...

Identity crisis for fossil beetle helps rewrite beetle family tree

There are more different kinds of beetle than just about any other kind of animal—scientists have described about 5,800 different species of mammals, compared with nearly 400,000 species of beetles. Of those 400,000 kinds ...

Know garden pests before deciding on a path to control

You look around the garden and see aphids suck the life out of your rose buds, flea beetles chomp on the cauliflower and cabbage butterflies lay eggs that will turn into voracious caterpillars. What to do?

Scientists alarmed by bark beetle boom

Bark beetles are currently responsible for killing an unprecedented number of trees in forests across Europe and North America. Why the beetle populations first explode to decline naturally after a few years is largely unknown. ...

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Beetle

Adephaga Archostemata Myxophaga Polyphaga See subgroups of the order Coleoptera

Beetles are the group of insects with the largest number of known species. They are classified in the order Coleoptera (pronounced /ˌkoʊliˈɒptərə/; from Greek κολεός, koleos, "sheath"; and πτερόν, pteron, "wing", thus "sheathed wing"), which contains more described species than in any other order in the animal kingdom, constituting about 25% of all known life-forms. 40% of all described insect species are beetles (about 350,000 species), and new species are frequently discovered. Estimates put the total number of species, described and undescribed, at between 5 and 8 million. The largest family also belongs to this order—the weevils, or snout beetles, Curculionidae.

Beetles can be found in almost all habitats, but are not known to occur in the sea or in the polar regions. They interact with their ecosystems in several ways. They often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are prey of various animals including birds and mammals. Certain species are agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the boll weevil Anthonomus grandis, the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, and the mungbean or cowpea beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, while other species of beetles are important controls of agricultural pests. For example, beetles in the family Coccinellidae ("ladybirds" or "ladybugs") consume aphids, scale insects, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects that damage crops.

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