BEETLES (Order Coleoptera)

Main sources: Papp, Charles S., 1984, Introduction to North American Beetles, Sacramento, CA: Entomography Publications

Coleoptera are the most diverse of all insects, but their distinguishing feature is toughened forewings that protect the larger, membranous hindwings folded beneath. These toughened forewings (the elytra) usually meet down a midline of the body. The combination of protective forewings and tough, strong bodies enable them to survive in a huge variety of habitats. The hindwings generally do most of the work of flying (though in some species these are missing and the elytra are fused -- such species cannot fly). They undergo complete metamorphosis, from grubs to pupae to adults.

Well over 300,000 species of beetles have been described by scientists, and they range from tiny to large, from gluttonous vegetarians to voracious predators, from dull black-ards to gems of psychedelic coloring. Papp (cited above) lists 54 Families of beetles in North America, and provides hundreds of species illustrations -- a head-swimming array of differences for an outsider to this branch of entomology..

Our general ignorance of these forms is too great for further discussion here. What we will do on this page is present images as we collect them, try to identify them, and construct pages on specific beetles as we become more familiar with different types.

In April and May of 2004 and 2005, we had reasonably good Spring rains, which led to rich eruptions of Spring annual sprouts and flowers followed by insect feasting upon the subsequent growths.

Consider this one below left and below right, attacking phacelia seeds, and in the center, exploring some other kind of seeds. this one looks like the Arizona Blister Beetle [Lytta magister]

Another beetle (we think) in the red-black mode we photographed in May of 2004, crawling on the ground in the Notch Basin. Note the red-hourglass pattern on its black back, perhaps a mimicry of a Black Widow Spider (Click on the image to enlarge it.)


Below are two views of a brown beetle feeding on a sunflower-like plant (many of these are still blooming on the Ridge Road). This is the same insect as captured on our Saguaro Juniper front page logo (where a group were shown infesting a thistle flower) (Click on each image to enlarge it.)

Below, a set of black beetles (possibly a Narrow Flower Scarab [Dichelonyx spp]?) feasting on the flower of an Engelmanni Prickly Pear: (Click on the image for a closeup of one beetle)

Below, in July 2004 this crew of beetles (?) were enjoying the pollen fruit of a blossoming Pincushion Mammilaria cactus in Sierra Blanca Canyon Wash: (Click on the image for a closeup of one beetle)

Below, a black-&-yellow beetle with red blotches feeds on a Pearly Everlasting sunflower, Hot Springs Canyon, September 10, 2004 (Click on each image for a closeup):


In September 2004, we saw this red/black beetle feasting on flower clusters of a seepwillow bush in Sierra Blanca Canyon Wash: (Click on each image for a closeup):



September 09, 2004: this (apparent) beetle was seen near the spout of the Sierra Blanca Spring water tank: (Click on the image to enlarge it.) This was a small creature. Below, a very blurry close-up of the front parts of the animal. Any suggestions?


Below is a very small black/red beetle seen on a Chicory flower in April of 2005: You can see the black spot clearly if you click on the image to enlarge it.

Below, this more familiar red/black beetle (the Ladybird Beetle, Coccinella spp) was observed on a Brittlebush plant in April 2005. (Click on the right-hand image to enlarge it.) "Ladybugs" are rounded, short-legged beetles that eat soft-bodied insects. They are found worldwide.


At left, one of our commonly seen black ground-stalking beetles, this looks like a species of Darkling Beetle (Tenebrio spp), walking in Sierra Blanca Canyon Wash in September 2004. These are slow-moving scavengers with many species in the North American West. (The steel point of the walking-stick at the bottom of the photo is about 1" [2.5cm] long.)