There are over 350,000 species of beetles! In this sense, identifying a single beetle can become a challenge. But when you find one indoors or on the street, you might want to know what kind of beetle it is. First of all, you need to examine it closely to identify the basic features, then use that information to help you unravel the mystery.
Method 1 of 3: Observing the Basic Characteristics of a Beetle
Step 1. Look for two rigid covers on the insect's back
Beetles have wings that are covered by two rigid coverings, giving the insect a carapace appearance. These “shields” are also why the beetles make a cracking noise when you accidentally step on them.
If the observed insect is a beetle, the wings will not be exposed until they extend outward when the covers lift
Step 2. Look for chewing on the underside of the head
Beetles have sharp jaws to eat other insects, vegetables, fungi, as well as decaying plants and animals. Look at the underside of the beetle's mouth to see if the jaws are there.
When the insect has a protruding mouth, looking like something made of straw, it means it is not a beetle
Step 3. Note that the insect has six legs
Beetles have six legs distributed between the front and back of the body segments, but when they are still larvae, all the legs are in front of the body. Anyway, the legs must be distributed between the front and back parts of the segments. Count them and note where they are positioned to see if it's actually a beetle.
Insects with four, eight or more legs are not beetles
Method 2 of 3: Identifying the Bigger Beetles
Step 1. Identifying the elaterid beetles (Elateridae)
These types of beetle have a long, narrow body and grooves all along the back, which can be black or dark brown. However, they are best known for making a clicking sound when cracking the front and rear sections of the body. In addition, they also use this movement to turn when they are turned upside down (ie, unable to walk).
- A beetle from this family can measure between 1, 5 cm and 4 cm.
- It is a common type of beetle around the world, with about 7000 known species.
Step 2. Watch out for carabid beetles (Carabidae)
This is a family of beetles, usually black, that contain grooves on their backs. The biggest features are the bad and strong smell it emits, as well as the incredible speed to move, (so much so that it is difficult to observe it up close). Carabidae are usually found under wood logs and leaves, but they can also enter houses through cracks or an open window.
It is important to know that this family is harmless as it feeds on other insects. So you or your pets will be safe
Step 3. Look for cerambicidae beetles (Cerambycidae)
This family is known for its long antennae, which resemble long-horned cattle. Antennas can come in various shapes (straight, curved, or half-and-half) and the body can be black, brown, green, yellow, red, or a combination of these colors. Cerambicidae are usually seen walking through dead trees.
It is one of the largest families of beetles, as it has more than 25,000 described species - and all of them have long antennae
Step 4. Look for the Flourworm (Tenebrio molitor)
This is a peculiar insect that has a rounded head and a neck resembling a spoon. Such characteristics mean that it is, in fact, a flourworm and, even with that name, it really is a beetle. It has the outdoors as a habitat, but it is possible to find it infesting cans that contain flour and other types of dry grains.
For grains, keep them in tightly covered containers to prevent infestation
Step 5. Identify the domestic capricorn (Hylotrupes bajulus)
This species of beetle has small white dots on its wings and its leg segments are enlarged. When observing it closely, it is possible to see small gray hairs on its back and three black eyes on each side of its mouth. It is an insect that has the sapwood of coniferous woods as food, house and place for breeding.
This beetle usually appears between four and seven years after a house is completed
Method 3 of 3: Identifying the Smaller Beetles
Step 1. Look for the carpet drills
Most of the time, we will look for a black beetle with an elongated abdomen, known scientifically as Attagenus unicolor. In general, they are oval insects that are usually black or dark brown, measuring from 3 mm to 5 mm.
The fabric weevil (Anthrenus verbasci) is similar to the fabric weevil (Attagenus unicolor), having practically the same size (3 mm), however, the main characteristic that differentiates it from the others are the bright yellow marks and green through the body
Step 2. Look for Xanthogaleruca luteola, the elm bark beetle
Measuring 6 mm, this scarab has a body with green and black stripes. It feeds on the leaves of trees, especially those of the elm, a very common tree in North America and Europe. In addition, it is on the underside of the leaves that females lay eggs.
It can destroy trees if there is an out-of-control infestation. In that case, you need to stop them with pesticides
Step 3. Identify the ladybugs
It is a small beetle with a rounded body, vibrant colors and black dots. The appearance of the body can vary, being yellow, orange, or red, with little black markings, as well as black with red, orange or yellow markings.
There are around 4,500 species of this family (coccinellids), distributed among 350 genera. It is one of the most important families in Brazil
Step 4. Protect the ham from the attacks of the bacon beetle
This one is black and usually infests smoked ham. Physically it is oval and bears a whitish or silvery spot on the first horizontal half of the back.
Try to leave the ham covered when it is uncapped and put it back in the fridge for storage
Step 5. Look for the pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae)
It is commonly found near piles of firewood, has a cylindrical appearance and measures about 3 mm (almost a grain of rice). Not least, it can also infest live trees, which will quickly die if there is an infestation.
Infestations of this species dry out and kill the wood, a factor that intensifies fire in forest fires
Step 6. Identify the flour borer or bread beetle (Stegobium paniceum)
This insect has lines on the wing covers, a slightly curved head and can measure from 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm. The body color varies from brown to reddish-brown and is a pest that often infests packaged foods.
When the head is so bent that the beetle becomes humpbacked, it is probably a smoke beetle (Lasioderma serricorne). Despite this hump, he looks a lot like the flour borer
Step 7. Look for the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum)
It is a flattened beetle, with a rusty color and claviform antennae (in the form of a club). It is very similar to another species, the confused flour beetle (Tribolium confusum). It feeds on corn flour and other packaged products.
It is important to keep any grains (cassava flour, maize flour, etc.) inside tightly capped containers to prevent infestations from these pests
Step 8. Look for weevils in rice and other grains
They have a long, thin body, are brown and have a pointed head that looks like a long “beak”. In general, they measure 3 mm.
Weevil infestations on rice and other grains are common because they can chew and get through the paper and thin plastic of packages. In this sense, the best thing to do is to keep the loose grains and flour inside glass, metal or thick plastic containers – leaving them tightly covered, of course
Step 9. Look for beetles of the species Oryzaephilus surinamensis
Measuring 3 mm, the body of this insect contains bumps on the sides of the chest that look like saw teeth. The foods they most like to be present and eat are sunflower seeds and walnuts, but they also infest many other types of grains (peanuts, rice, barley, white beans, corn, wheat, etc.).