Types of Ground Beetles (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

Little insects with long legs and large pinchers, ground beetles are tiny. Because they feed on common crop and plant pests, several species of ground beetles are beneficial insects. Ground beetles, on the other hand, may be a problem in homes throughout the summer and early autumn. Cracks in doors, foundations, and windows allow them to enter homes. Some ground beetles have powerful jaws (mandibles) that can bite, despite the fact that they are not dangerous.

Knowing what kind of pest you’re dealing with is important when it comes to identifying ground beetles in your home. Cockroaches, wood boring beetles, carpet beetles, and other invasive insects may be mistaken for some species of these tiny black or brown beetles. As a result, identifying the species and taking proper management steps are necessary to get rid of ground beetles. Most ground beetles have flattened oval bodies and are small, black insects. Brown ground beetles and iridescent ground beetles with tan or orange patterns on their hard shells are also available, however.

This article will help you identify the majority of common ground beetles that you may encounter in your yard or house. Pictures of ground beetles will assist you distinguish between these insects and other pests in your home, in addition to descriptions. Ultimately, you’ll find useful advice on how to get rid of ground beetles at the conclusion of the article.

How to Identify Ground Beetles

The glossy, oval black, brown, or metallic flattened bodies of ground beetles are easy to identify. The majority of ground beetles are 0.125 to 0.5 inches (3 to 12 mm) long. Their heads are narrower than their necks, which is a characteristic feature. Ground beetles also feature powerful pincer-like jaws, six legs, and two long antennae. The Carabidae family of beetles includes ground beetles. The little black-bodied creatures have wings, but the majority of them never fly and just scuttle along the ground.

Before the larva emerges and then pupates underground, a ground beetle’s life cycle begins as an egg. Adult ground beetles are the only ones that may be seen above ground. They’ll be scuttling on the ground, you’ll see. When resting, carabid beetles prefer to hide under rocks, stones, wood, or grass.

Are Ground Beetles Dangerous?

These little creatures are harmless, but they can be a nuisance in the house. Clothing, wooden structures, and food are not damaged by the small brown and black beetles. The malodorous defensive secretions ground beetles emit when they are threatened are the main source of their irritation. Mandibles are also used to pinch your skin. Black ground beetles, for example, may hide in packaged foods and diminish the flavor.

Ground beetles are usually considered benign insects. Other insect larvae, tiny insects, aphids, mites, slugs, snails, and other invertebrates are all eaten by certain ground beetle species. In addition, they consume a slew of vegetation that are considered weeds. Only when the population of ground beetles is particularly high do they damage plants and crops. In that situation, eliminating as many ground beetles as feasible is a smart move.

Types of Ground Beetles (Pictures, Identification, and Control)

In North America, there are approximately 2,000 species of ground beetles. The majority of ground beetles are around 0.5 inch (12 mm) long and black in color. The big, murky ground beetle (Harpalus caliginosus) is 1″ (25 mm) in length. Pedunculate (Scarites spp.), Brachininae (Brachinini), and Pennsylvania ground beetles (Harpalus spp.) are all common species of ground beetles. Common ground beetles have a lot of distinctive features, so let’s take a closer look.

Pedunculate Ground Beetles (Scarites spp.)

Scarites spp. (Pedunculate ground beetles) The big-headed ground beetle Scarites subterraneus is seen in the top image. Bottom: Pedunculate ground beetles have a glossy black body and huge pincers, and are predatory insects. The oval abdomen of beetles in the genus Scarites has a straight edge at its narrow waist, which is an identifying feature. Furthermore, this beetle has two marginal depressions on its glossy black head.

In comparison to other carabids, pedunculate beetles are rather huge. These black beetles are 0.55 to 1.18 inches (14 to 30 millimeters) long with pincers. Pedunculate ground beetles are easily identified because of their thin waist, ridged wing covers (elytra), and huge mandibles.

Pedunculate ground beetles are frequently mistaken for stag beetles because to their color and enormous pincers. The ground beetle waist, on the other hand, is a defining characteristic of the Scarites genus. Pedunculate ground beetles are most typically seen scurrying about grass, in open fields, along woodland floors, and other areas looking for insects, caterpillars, and bugs. They capture and consume prey with their huge pincers and mandibles.

Under mulch, leaf litter, logs, and stones, you may also find huge black ground beetles. Burrowing ground beetles are another kind of beetle. During the spring and summer, black beetles are active, and they may be a bother in homes throughout August. They hunt at night and are nocturnal.

The excellent ability to act of this carabid genus is a unique feature. Pedunculate ground beetles have an unusual defensive mechanism when they are approached too closely. The black bug will flatten itself on its back and feign death when it is threatened. The black ground beetle, according to scientists, is neither harmful nor dangerous to people or property.

Pennsylvania Ground Beetles (Harpalus spp.)

Pennsylvania ground beetle (Harpalus pensylvanicus) is shown in the top photograph. Harpalus affinis, a small black oval insect with short brownish legs and mandibles, is a common native North American insect species. The elytra of these carabid beetles are ribbed and glossy black. These ground beetles, on the other hand, have a reddish brown underside. Ground beetles in Pennsylvania range in size from 0.51 to 0.63 inches (13 to 16 mm).

The most active months for Pennsylvania ground beetles are August and September. Plant and weed seeds are commonly eaten by the glossy black beetles. Redroot pigweed, giant foxtail, lambsquarters, green bristle grass, and cupgrass are among the insects’ favorite foods, according to scientists. Moreover, cucumber beetles, aphids, zebra caterpillars, and corn borers can be controlled by these beneficial beetles.

Pennsylvania ground beetles are beneficial insects, but they may harm certain plants. They’ve been seen attacking ripening berries and other soft fruit that grow on the ground, for example. The Pennsylvania ground beetle (Harpalus pensylvanicus) is the most frequent Harpalus beetle in North America, with over 400 species. The glossy black oval body, small head, and brownish antennae, mandibles, and legs of many of the species are comparable.

The Harpalus affinis is a particularly stunning Harpalus beetle. The metallic green body of this little bug is shiny, with dark tan legs and antennae. The ground beetle may appear black, blue, or metallic bronze depending on the lighting. It was brought in and is found throughout the United States, despite not being native to North America.

Pterostichus Ground Beetles (Pterostichus spp.)

Pterostichus anthracinus is the top species. Bottom: Pterostichus melanarius (rain beetle) A common black beetle with two filiform antennae and a dull black body, Pterostichus melanarius (rain beetles) are abundant. These large ground beetles, ranging from 0.59″ to 0.82″ (15 to 21 mm), are very common. This black insect has a narrow head, rounded pronotum (the plate over the thorax), and an oval body, as do many ground beetle species.

The rain beetle (Pterostichus melanarius) is one of the most widespread black beetles in the genus Pterostichus. The ridged lines down the wing cover of this black beetle make it seem non-descript. Pterostichus, a popular black carabid beetle with a glossy finish, is similar.

Other more striking beetles in this genus, on the other hand, have a metallic gleam. The most prevalent kind of ground-dwelling beetle in North America is the Pterostichus genus, which contains over 1,100 species. Fields, meadows, grasslands, woodlands, and urban settings are all home to medium to large-sized beetles. Unfortunately, in late summer and fall, the beetles can become a bothersome problem in homes, especially around night.

Bembidion Ground Beetles (Bembidion spp.)

Bembidion quadrimaculatum is the top species in this group. The genus Bembidion includes one of the most species and diversity in ground beetles. They are, nevertheless, some of the tiniest ground beetles. Coloration among individual species varies greatly as well. The length of a Bembidion beetle is generally less than 0.29 inch (7.5 mm). Between the thorax and a flat edge of the abdomen, they also have a distinctive form with a narrow waist.

The Bembidion tetracolum, for example, has a distinctive mottled black and brown pattern on its wing covers. Shiny black bodies with creamy yellow patches are also seen on some small Bembidion ground beetles. The rapidity of these tiny ground beetles, as well as their capacity to fly and feed on pest larvae, are distinctive characteristics.

These predatory instincts are used to get away from predators. They are also eaten by bigger ground beetles and spiders because to their size.

Bombardier Ground Beetles (Brachininae spp.)

Bombardier ground beetles belong to the Brachininae subfamily of beetles, which includes brown and black color. In comparison to the oval, flattened coffee bean-shaped body, the colorful carabid beetles have a thin head and thorax. Mat-black elytra, orange-brown or rusty brown legs, heads, and antennae are also found in many individual species.

The average size of black and brown bombardier ground beetles is 0.17 to 0.37 inches (4.5 to 9.5 mm). These tiny creatures are found in grasslands, under rocks, loose boards, and woodland floors, as are other species of nocturnal ground beetles.

These beetles, on the other hand, are common in wet or damp places such as bogs and pond or stream edges. Bombardier ground beetles come in over 500 different species. They do, however, all share one trait. To defend themselves, the flying beetles release a fiery, stinging, corrosive spray. The bombardier beetle gets its common name from this.

False Bombardier Beetle (Galerita bicolor)

The false bombardier beetle resembles several varieties of true bombardier beetles and is an orange-brown and black ground beetle. The black oval abdomen, rusty brown thorax, and small black heads of these enormous ground-dwelling beetles are easily seen.

Despite its resemblance to a bombardier beetle, it is substantially bigger. The bombardier beetle is a huge ground insect that grows to be 0.68 inch (17.5 mm) long. In the eastern United States, these black and orange ground beetles are ubiquitous. They aren’t particularly harmful to plants and prefer tiny insects.

Caterpillar Hunter Beetles (Calosoma spp.)

Calosoma sycophanta is a metallic green caterpillar hunter beetle that belongs to the Calosoma genus of ground beetles. The iridescent hues of the huge reflective green beetles may change from bronze to copper to blue to green. The heads of most Calosoma species are black or dazzling blue. The body of these enormous, stout green beetles is wide, and their head is black. Depending on the species, the green ground beetles range from 1 to 1.37 inch (25 to 35 mm).

These huge ground beetles eat caterpillars, making them ideal for keeping a variety of moth and butterfly larvae in check. Several research have found that in two weeks, species like Calosoma sycophanta may devour up to 50 caterpillars. These brilliant green ground beetles were introduced to North America to combat gypsy moth caterpillars, despite their European origin.

Lebia grandis

Lebia grandis is a beneficial ground beetle with an orange head and a bright orange band at the base of its wing covers. It has a huge black oval body with blue-green iridescent undertone and an orange underbelly. The ground beetle’s two large black eyes on a tiny orange head are an identifying characteristic.

The predatory ground beetles Lebia, of which there are hundreds of species, belong to the genus Lebia. Flat ground beetles and colorful foliage ground beetles are other names for them. The flattened elytra of most species are brightly colored or have iridescent patterns. The size of beetles in the genus Lebia ranges from 0.09 to 0.55 inches (2.5 to 14 mm).

The genus’s largest species is Lebia grandis. It’s 8.5 mm long, measured from end to end. Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) benefit from the black or iridescent blue beetle, which has a rusty orange head. Once Colorado potato beetles deposit their eggs, the Lebia grandis emerges. They can consume up to 23 bug larvae each day.

Carabus Ground Beetles (Carabus spp.)

Carabus glabratus is the top-of-the-line model. Bottom: Golden ground beetle (Carabus auratus) The thin, oval bodies of the carabid beetles, as well as their bright metallic hue and towering stature, have made them famous. The beetles can grow to be two inches long (12.5 mm).

Some ground beetles have an unattractive dull black coloration. Other Carabus beetle species, on the other hand, feature bright red, metallic blue, and lustrous copper bronze colors. In comparison to their bodies, the majority of species are recognized by their long, slender black legs, large antennae, and little head.

Stenolophus Ground Beetles (Stenolophus spp.)

Ground beetles belonging to the Stenolophus genus. Stenolophus tentonus, Stenolophus ochropezus, and Stenolophus lineola are the three species that make up this genus. The slender oval bodies, short antennae, and black and brown colors of beetles in the genus are all typical features. Seedcorn beetles belong to the common carabid genus Stenolophus.

These tiny dark brown to black ground beetles are 0.19″ to 0.31″ (5 to 8 mm) long. A large black stripe on their wing covers and thin longitudinal furrows distinguish some of them. When they assault seed corn in the spring, the beetles are most active and may wipe out crops.

Snail Eating Ground Beetles (Scaphinotus spp.)

Scaphinotus elevatus (the eastern snail eater) is the top image. Scaphinotus angusticollis, a ground beetle species that prey on snails, is shown at the bottom. A flattened oval body and a long, slender head characterize the native North American ground beetles.

The iridescent patterns and punctuations on the wing covers of the snail-eating beetles are typically a dark brown or black color. Ground beetles that eat snails are normally around 1″ (25 mm) long. Bright metallic green, deep iridescent purple, and matted black are among the color variations.

The eastern snail eater (Scaphinotus elevatus) is one of the most common beetle species in the genus Scaphinotus. The elytra of the indigenous ground beetle are rounded, and their iridescent designs are purple or violet. The flightless beetle may be seen from late spring to late summer and is most often found in damp places where snails are common.

Ground Beetle Control: How to Get Rid of Ground Beetles

Preventing ground beetles from entering your home is the best way to control them. This necessitates the sealing and/or replacement of potential entry channels. As a result, you should caulk cracks in the earth, at ground level window frames, and around entryways. Furthermore, keep the exterior free of weeds and garden trash and store firewood away from the home.

Invasive house pests are uncommon among ground beetles. Suppose, on the other hand, that some find their way indoors. You may physically remove them using a vacuum or enclose them in a vessel if the situation calls for it. You can also catch the annoying black ground beetles with sticky traps placed along baseboards.

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