What are beetles?

A June beetle

No insect group has more species than beetles, with something in the region of a quarter of a million species known.

Beetles are generally recognised very easily because they have two pairs of wings, hardened and modified into protective shells called elytra. Most beetles prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground or on the vegetation and they don't very often fly. All beetles have biting jaws and never have the piercing beak which is so obvious in the bugs.

Not all beetles have shields covering their entire body. In Western Europe lots of beetles are so-called Rove Beetles. They all have very short wing cases, leaving the greater part of the body naked. The real wings are folded under the remains of the shields, the same way earwigs do. Oil Beetles as well as a few Longhorn Beetles also have extremely small shields.

Where can they be found?

A rove beetle

Beetles can be found almost anywhere, for their tough elytra give them added protection and allow them to occupy places which are denied to other winged insects. Many of them live in the soil and under stones but also often occur in houses, bakeries, grain stores and warehouses - anywhere that food is stored, especially dried food stuffs such as grain, cereals, flour and nuts.

Many have a remarkable metabolism which enables them to survive without free water, and it is this ability which has led to the establishment of grain weevils, carpet beetles, and other species as pests in food stores and domestic premises.