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Ground Beetle

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Ground Beetle

Ground Beetle (Varies), This group of beetles varies in size 1/8 to 1 inch, shape and color. Most are flattened, dark brown, hard bodied beetles with many fine lengthwise ridges on their wing covers. The width of the segment just behind the head is usually narrower than the abdomen. The head is narrower than the prothorax, bearing sickle like jaws and 11 segmented antennae.

Ground Beetle

Ground Beetle

Some ground beetles are metallic green or blue or are marked with spots of metallic red or gold. One of the most striking ground beetles is the caterpillar hunter. This beetle is about 1 inch long and brilliant metallic green. Ground beetle larvae have bodies 3/8 to 1-3/4 inch long, slightly flattened, cream to brown in color, and slightly tapered at each end. They have three pairs of well-developed legs and run quickly. The heads bear sickle-shaped jaws that are pointed forward.

One ground beetle species, is unusual because it has a wide, flat head and prothorax and a narrow, articulated "waist" between the prothorax and abdomen. This species superficially resembles a male stag beetle. However, stag beetles have a clubbed antennae, lack the narrow waist and they have smooth wing covers elytra. The seedcorn beetle, is a smaller 1/3 inch long dark brown, striped species that occasionally feeds on corn seeds and seedlings.

Life Cycle: Like all beetles, ground beetles have complete metamorphosis with egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. In most ground beetle species, females lay eggs in soil. Upon hatching, larvae feed and grow for 1-2 years in most species and pupate in small chambers made of soil. Many species spend the winter in these chambers, and the adults emerge in spring. Most adult ground beetles will live for several years. Pictured below are typical ground beetle larvae.

Most ground beetles complete a life cycle within a year. Ground beetles overwinter as larvae or adults. Eggs are deposited singly in the soil. Larvae develop in or on the soil, especially under stones, boards or other debris. Pupation takes place in the soil. Adults are usually nocturnal, and may be attracted to lights. Large numbers of adults are often found in areas where food is abundant.

Most ground beetles are fast-moving predators that feed on small insects, spiders, and other arthropods. They usually hunt at night by patrolling the ground, and are found in a variety of habitats, including farmland, wooded areas, and lawns. During the day, most ground beetles hide under rocks, logs, and fallen leaves. Ground beetles seldom fly. A few beetles in this family, such as the seedcorn beetle Stenolophus lecontei, are herbivores.

Ground beetle larvae are also predators, and most species hunt in the same way as the adults, by patrolling at night and hiding during the day, although many ground beetle larvae tend to remain undercover even while hunting some hunt under fallen leaves, others hunt underground.

Ground Beetle

Ground Beetle

Damage: The adults of ground beetles and tiger beetles are sometimes nuisance pests when present in large numbers. Some species of ground beetles have been known to eat seeds and thus do occasional damage. However, economic damage by ground beetles in the Southeast is negligible.

Controls:Ground beetles and tiger beetles are predators and are therefore considered beneficial. Control is usually not necessary, especially where turf is treated for other insects. Controlling the insects on which ground beetles and tiger beetles feed usually is sufficient to reduce the numbers of these predators.

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