Beetles

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Identification

  • Colour Bright colours to brown or black
  • Size From 0.25 mm to over 100 mm
  • Description All beetles have hard outer wing cases, known as elytra, and a hard upper body, called a carapace. The elytra cover the membranous flight wings and form a straight line down the back. Beetles all have chewing mouthparts, powerful jaws, and antennae of up to 11 segments.

General Facts

Beetles are members of the order Coleoptera and are the most diverse group of insects on the planet. With over 300,000 species known and documented, most academics agree many more species remain undiscovered throughout the various ecosystems of the world. In Canada alone, scientists estimate more than 9,000 species of beetles either occur naturally or as invasive species introduced through various means. Beetles are identified by their hard outer wings known as elytra and a carapace. They all have chewing mouthparts with powerful jaws. Beetles are diverse in size and colouration ranging from bright colours to brown or black. They feed on variety of foods ranging from plant to animal materials.

Types of Beetles in Canada

As beetles remain one of the largest groups of insects on the planet, species known to the North American continent remain plentiful. Certain families of the insect are more plentiful than others, and many commonly known beetles remain highly recognizable and even helpful to humans. For instance, the common ladybug, also known as a lady beetle, feeds on aphids and other crop-destroying insects, while species from the ground beetle family Carabidae prey on garden pests. Other species may prove more invasive and destructive. For instance, powderpost beetles infest man-made wood structures and wood products, often travelling to wherever homebuilding supplies go as unnoticed stowaways. Members of the carpet beetle family feast on furs, leathers, wools, and silk. Homeowners commonly mistake carpet beetle damage for property destruction caused by moth infestations.

Appearance

With so many individual species, beetles vary greatly in size, shape, and appearance. All adults possess two pairs of wings and chewing mouthparts, with a body usually hardened and durable. The harder outer wings, or the elytra, cover the membranous flight wings and generally form a straight line down the back when at rest. Antennae vary in structure and usually have 11 segments or less. The overall length of the insect may range from 0.25 mm to over 100 mm, with larger beetles mostly residing in tropical regions of the world.

Habitat

Beetles occupy various habitats around the country. Most species tend to make homes on plants, while some may burrow and tunnel underground or in trees. Some species of beetle are also capable of swimming and spend a majority of time in or around water. While beetles may live just about anywhere, most do not occur in the northernmost Arctic areas of Canada, as the weather proves too extreme for the insects to thrive.

Life Cycle

Beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, consisting of four distinct stages, namely egg, larva, pupa and adult. Much like other insects, a female beetle lays eggs after mating, which eventually hatch into larvae. Eggs typically appear smooth in texture and are laid wherever the species of beetle usually finds a predominant food source, such as in soil, in wood, under bark, on leaves, or even in carrion. Eggs may be singular, but most beetle species in North America lay several thousand at a time. Beetle larvae remain wingless upon hatching and appear similar to either worms or caterpillars. A larva, sometimes called a grub, has anywhere from one to six simple eyes on each side of the head and mouthparts for eating. At the end of the larval stage, beetles form pupation cells in order to develop into adults. Upon emergence, the body of the beetle appears soft and pale, though the hard carapace and elytra soon appear, as does pigmentation.

Signs of Infestation: Beetles in the Home

Depending on the species or family of beetle, signs of infestation may vary greatly. For most wood-boring species, like the metallic wood-boring beetles, larvae bore deep into trees and leave exit holes when emerging as adults. Considered primary invaders because of the predilection to attack healthy trees, the most common sign of wood-boring beetles remains the frass, or the dusty excrement left behind when entering and feeding on a tree. For species of carpet beetles, such as the varied carpet beetle, feeding on animal skins, furs, and carpets occur during larval stages. To properly identify whether infestation proves beetle and not moth, most larvae leave behind brown, shell-like cast skins when moulting. Other species, like the invasive Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) and Tribolium castaneum, otherwise known as the red flour beetle, feed on both crops and stored foodstuffs respectively. When population density of the red flour beetle proves high enough, grains begin to show a tinted red appearance, while the Japanese beetle leaves behind brittle and skeletonized shells.

Prevention Tips

As with the signs of infestation, most preventive measures for assuring protection from beetles depend on the species. For beetles that feed on wood, such as wood-boring beetles and powderpost beetles, perhaps the most effective prevention comes from using products like varnish in finished wood products. Varnishing seals old holes and prevents new eggs from being laid or hatched. In order to treat trees, early detection remains crucial. For beetles feeding on interiors, such as carpet beetles, prevention may prove difficult, as the insect finds food in obscure places quite easily. Proper sanitation and exclusion may prove to be the most beneficial way to eliminate carpet beetles. Before purchasing foodstuffs, inspect packaging carefully for beetles that feed on crops and grains. Store dry goods in sturdy, airtight containers and keep areas where food is stored clean. Remove older products and goods as necessary. Appropriately labelled products can be used to control and manage infestations. Calling a trained and qualified pest professional is the best to completely eradicate any active beetle infestation.

 

Where do they live?

There are more than 400,000 known species of beetle, and they live diverse lifestyles. Most tend to make homes on plants, but other can burrow and tunnel underground or in trees. Some species are also capable of swimming and spend most of their time in or around water.

Beetles can live in just about every environment, with the exception of the northernmost Arctic, as the weather proves too extreme for the insects to thrive.

A female beetle will lay eggs wherever she can find a good food source, such as in soil and wood, under bark, on leaves, or in carrion.

Beetle life cycle

In North America, female beetles, depending on the species, can lay hundreds of eggs after mating. All of these eggs have a smooth appearance. Depending on the species, they can take weeks or years to grow into adult beetles.

These eggs hatch into larvae or grubs. Beetle larvae are wingless and look similar to worms or caterpillars. They already have up to six simple eyes on each side of its head and mouthparts for eating - and they are voracious eaters, consuming anything that appeals to them.

The larvae then shed their skin to become pupae and grow into adults. When they emerge, these adult beetles look soft and pale, but soon develop a carapace, elytra, and pigmentation.

Depending on the species of beetle, the amount of food available, and the environment, it can take weeks, months, or even years for an egg to grow into a fully formed adult.

After that, their lifespans also vary massively, ranging from weeks to decades.

Why do I have beetles?

Canada has more than 9,000 species of beetles, including carpet beetles, powder post beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles, spider beetles, and tiger beetles.

Seeking food and shelter, they usually invade your home through cracks in the foundation or gaps around window frames and doors.

They are also known to hitch a ride indoors in firewood, lumber, furniture, potted plants, or packages being delivered. Sometimes owners unknowingly bring in already infested products.

While many beetles like to avoid the cold weather by setting up home on your property, they have very varied tastes when it comes to food.

Some species of beetle are attracted by healthy trees, wooden structures, and wood products,, while others prefer carpet, furs, leathers, wools, and silk, or crops and stored food.

How worried should I be about beetles?

Some species of beetle can be beneficial, eating garden pests like aphids. However, others can be extremely destructive to your home or business.

Both larvae and adult beetles can damage furniture, carpets, decor, packaged goods, and clothing, as well as leave behind unsightly clues of their infestation.

Some beetles deposit dusty excrement or brittle, skeletonized shells when feeding, while others leave grains tinted red. Most larvae leave behind brown, shell-like cast skins when moulting.

Because there are so many species of beetle, all with their own reasons for invading your home, you need specialist knowledge to eradicate them and keep them from returning. To truly stop an active beetle infestation, you need a professional pest control service.

How can I prevent beetles invading?

Use varnish on finished wood products, Check trees frequently for infestation, Keep your home clean and sanitary, Check food packaging for beetles, Store food in tightly-sealed containers, Remove older food products and goods

Can beetles fly?

Beetles have thick, tough forewings that cover their soft, light underwings, which in some species is used for flight. Many beetles fly by raising these coverings and fluttering the wings underneath. However, in some beetles the soft wings are reduced or the forewings are too heavy to create lift.

To prevent flying beetles from getting into homes, make sure doors and windows stay closed. Patch all tears and holes in screens that beetles can fly through to gain entrance.

Orkin Canada has control methods to deal with flying beetles. Contact these trained pest specialists to help with infestations.

Types of Beetles

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