Beetles - Friends & Foes
Beetles are often confused with bugs, but their mouthparts are adapted for biting and are completley different from the needle-like mouthparts of bugs.
Although most beetle species can fly quite well, they spend much of their lives in or in the ground. You'll find them scrambling about in the roots of plants, or under stones and logs -- places where their elytra help to protect them and stop their bodies from dryiung out. Diving beetles, such as members of the family Dytiscidae, hunt underwater for food and carry their own supply of air down with them under their wings.
Colorado Potato Beetle
Some beetles are serious pests. The black-and-yellow striped Colorado beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), for example, can destroy potato crops. The Death-watch beetle(Xestobium rufovillosum) damages houses and furniture, as does the woodworm, which is the larva of the Furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum).
The scarab is a large group of 20,000 species of beetle. Some species eat plants and sometimes harm lawns and/or crops. And other breed in dung (manure). They roll them into pellets and lay their eggs in the pellet. the ancient Egyptians called them the sacred scarabs. They also believed that the projections on the head of the were emblems of the sun and the beetle also symbolized the resurrection and immortality. the Egyptians carved them out of stone or metal, using them as charms. They usually took out the heart of a dead person and put a carved, and sometimes jeweled, scarab in its place during embalming.
Dung beetles (family Scarabaeidae) are altogether more useful. They have broad front legs with which they dig into the soil to bury dung, beginning a process that helps to recycle this waste material. The beetles lay their eggs in the dung, and their larvae feed on it after hatching.
Strange flashing lights on a summer's night may betray glowworms (family Lampyridae) -- a type of beetle, despite their name. Glowworms are very popular in Western Europe. They are very closely related to a firefly. These insects are primarily nocturnal creatures that flashes actively only during a limited period of the night. Male glowworms can fly, but the females are wingless and use their greenish lights to attract the males in the breeding season. Fireflies, or lightning bugs, belong to the same family. They behave in a similar way, except that both sexes can fly. These common names show one reason why scientific names are so necessary -- these animals are neither worms, flies nor bugs!