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Beetles and Weevils: Coleoptera - Devil's Coach-horse (ocypus Olens): Species Accounts

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Physical characteristics: Adult beetles are long, slender, black, and measure 0.9 to 1.3 inches (22 to 33 millimeters) in length. The body is black with short elytra exposing most of the abdominal segments.


Geographic range: This species lives in lower elevations of Europe, Russia, Turkey, North Africa, and the Canary Islands and is established in parts of North America.


Habitat: The devil's coach-horse lives in forests and gardens under stones, damp leaves, and moss, or in damp wood.


Diet: Adults and larvae prey on small, soil-dwelling arthropods, worms, slugs, and snails.


Behavior and reproduction: When threatened, the devil's coach-horse spreads its powerful jaws and bends its abdomen up over its back to spray a foul-smelling brown fluid. Nothing is known about its reproductive behavior.

When threatened, the devil's coach-horse spreads its powerful jaws and bends its abdomen up over its back to spray a foul-smelling brown fluid. (Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey. Reproduced by permission.)

Devil's coach-horses and people: This beetle was once a symbol of evil and death.


Conservation status: This species is not listed as endangered or threatened. ∎

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Evans, A. V., and C. L. Bellamy. An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Evans, A. V., and J. N. Hogue. Introduction to California Beetles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

Klausnitzer, B. Beetles. New York: Exeter Books, 1983.

Lawrence, J. F., and E. B. Britton. Australian Beetles. Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 1994.

Meads, M. Forgotten Fauna: The Rare, Endangered, and Protected Invertebrates of New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1990.

Tavolacci, J., editor. Insects and Spiders of the World. Volume 2: Beetle-Carpet Beetle. Volume 3: Carrion Beetle-Earwig. Volume 4: Endangered Species-Gypsy Moth. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2003.

White, R. E. A Field Guide to the Beetles of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.

Periodicals:

Cave, R. D. "Jewel Scarabs." National Geographic 199, no. 2 (2001): 52–61.

Chadwick, D. H. "Planet of the Beetles." National Geographic 193, no. 3 (1998): 1–111.

Eberhard, W. G. "Horned Beetles." Scientific American 242, no. 3 (1980): 166–182.

Evans, A. V. "Arizona's Sky Island Beetles." Reptiles Magazine 12, no. 8 (2004): 80–84.

Hadley, N. F. "Beetles Make Their Own Waxy Sunblock." Natural History 102, no. 8 (1993): 44–45.

Milne, L. J., and M. J. Milne. "The Social Behavior of Burying Beetles." Scientific American 235, no. 2 (1976): 84–89.

Web sites:

"Beetles. Coleoptera." BioKids. Critter Catalog. http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/information/Coleoptera.html (accessed on October 14, 2004).

"Coleoptera. Beetles, weevils." Ecowatch. http://www.ento.csiro.au/Ecowatch/Coleoptera/Coleoptera.htm (accessed on October 14, 2004).

Coleopterists Society. http://www.coleopsoc.org (accessed on October 14, 2004).

Videos:

Bug City. Aquatic Insects. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 1998.

Bug City. Beetles. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 1998.

Bug City. Ladybugs and Fireflies. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 1998.

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over 10 years ago

These beetles are very vicious. When I was a kid I use to put bugs in jars to let them fight...this beetle beat them all.