Wilderness Underfoot: Biodiversity's reigning champions

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644168830845.jpg’, ”, ‘The lightning bug (or firefly) – Everybody’s favorite glow-in-the-dark beetle.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644138329925.jpg’, ”, ‘The ladybug (or ladybird beetle – It helps destroy small insect pests, and the native non-biting kind is a favorite of kids and arts and crafters.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644176729925.jpg’, ”, ‘Invasive pests – Two of the worst threats to native trees: The Asian long-horned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis (left) attacks hardwoods and the emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis (right) attacks the ash.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644142130275.jpg’, ”, ‘June (or May) beetle – Despite its bulky size, Phyllophaga sp. is a relatively gentle creature. Unfortunately, this beetle’s larvae can cause damage to the roots of lawns and shrubs. This is a scarab, related to the honored beetles of ancient Egypt.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644160730275.jpg’, ”, ‘Common black ground beetle – Pterostichus melanarius was introduced from Europe. It’s somewhat beneficial, eating such pests as grubs and slugs.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644179730275.jpg’, ”, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644163130830.jpg’, ”, ‘Click beetle – This interesting beetle knows how to play dead when disturbed. If flipped on its back, it will pop up by snapping its neck with an audible “click,” and, like a tossed coin, it has a 50/50 chance of landing heads up. The larvae of click beetles attack plant roots, and they can become pests to field crops and gardens. North America has hundreds of species.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115644165529824.jpg’, ”, ‘Giant stag beetle – Lucanus elaphus is a scary-looking monster, with oversized pincers and a rearing defensive posture that positively screams, “Stay away!” Even so, this beetle's pinch is not very impressive. About 30 species of stag beetle occur in the U.S. Their larvae are decomposers, feeding on dead wood.’);

No other group of organisms is as large as the order of beetles

Beetles have diversified unlike any other organisms. They've mastered the game of evolution so well that about 350,000 species are already known, and scientists believe that perhaps 8 million more remain to be discovered.

These insects are found everywhere on earth, except in the Antarctic and in the oceans. From the human perspective, beetles represent the most loved, most hated, most helpful and most destructive organisms ever encountered. Among this order of insects are the decomposers, irreplaceable for breaking down dead matter so it can be reused in the chain of life. But other beetles destroy food crops and stored food, bringing about waves of human poverty and famine.

For entomologists, beetles are surely the most amazing creatures on earth. Here's a tiny, yet diverse, sample of the beetles found in our own region.

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