Ground beetles are a large, cosmopolitan family of beetles, Carabidae, with more than 40,000 species worldwide, around 2,000 of which are found in North America and 2,700 in Europe. It is one of the ten most speciose animal families, as of 2015.
Temporal range: Hettangian–Recent
|Golden ground beetle eating an earthworm in Northern Germany|
Although their body shapes and coloring vary somewhat, most are shiny black or metallic and have ridged wing covers (elytra). The elytra are fused in some species, particularly large Carabinae, rendering the beetles unable to fly. The genus Mormolyce is known as violin beetles due to their peculiarly shaped elytra. All carabids except the quite primitive flanged bombardier beetles (Paussinae) have a groove on their foreleg tibiae bearing a comb of hairs used for cleaning their antennae.
Typical for the ancient beetle suborder Adephaga to which they belong, they have paired pygidial glands in the lower back of the abdomen. These are well developed in ground beetles, and produce noxious or even caustic secretions used to deter would-be predators. In some, commonly known as bombardier beetles, these secretions are mixed with volatile compounds and ejected by a small combustion, producing a loud popping sound and a cloud of hot and acrid gas which can injure small mammals, such as shrews, and is liable to kill invertebrate predators outright.
To humans, getting "bombed" by a bombardier beetle is a decidedly unpleasant experience. This ability has evolved independently twice as it seems – in the flanged bombardier beetles (Paussinae) which are among the most ancient ground beetles, and in the typical bombardier beetles (Brachininae) which are part of a more "modern" lineage. The Anthiini, though, can mechanically squirt their defensive secretions for considerable distances and are able to aim with a startling degree of accuracy; in Afrikaans, they are known as oogpisters ("eye-pissers"). In one of the very few known cases of a vertebrate mimicking an arthropod, juvenile Heliobolus lugubris lizards are similar in color to the aposematic oogpister beetles, and move in a way that makes them look surprisingly similar to the insects at a casual glance.
A folk story claims that Charles Darwin once found himself on the receiving end of a bombardier beetle's attack, based on a passage in his autobiography. Darwin stated in a letter to Leonard Jenyns that a beetle had attacked him on that occasion, but he did not know what kind:
A Cychrus rostratus once squirted into my eye & gave me extreme pain; & I must tell you what happened to me on the banks of the Cam in my early entomological days; under a piece of bark I found two carabi (I forget which) & caught one in each hand, when lo & behold I saw a sacred Panagæus crux major; I could not bear to give up either of my Carabi, & to lose Panagæus was out of the question, so that in despair I gently seized one of the carabi between my teeth, when to my unspeakable disgust & pain the little inconsiderate beast squirted his acid down my throat & I lost both Carabi & Panagæus!
Common habitats are under the bark of trees, under logs, or among rocks or sand by the edge of ponds and rivers. Most species are carnivorous and actively hunt for any invertebrate prey they can overpower. Some run swiftly to catch their prey; tiger beetles (Cicindelinae) can sustain speeds of 9 km/h – in relation to their body length they are among the fastest land animals on Earth. Unlike most Carabidae which are nocturnal, the tiger beetles are active diurnal hunters and often brightly coloured; they have large eyes and hunt by sight. Ground beetles of the species Promecognathus laevissimus are specialised predators of the cyanide millipede Harpaphe haydeniana, countering the hydrogen cyanide which makes these millipedes poisonous to most carnivores.
As predators of invertebrates, including many pests, most ground beetles are considered beneficial organisms. The caterpillar hunters (Calosoma) are famous for their habit of devouring prey in quantity, eagerly feeding on tussock moth (Lymantriidae) caterpillars, processionary caterpillars (Thaumetopoeidae) and woolly worms (Arctiidae), which due to their urticating hairs are avoided by most insectivores. Large numbers of the forest caterpillar hunter (C. sycophanta), native to Europe, were shipped to New England for biological control of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) as early as 1905.
A few species are nuisance pests. Zabrus is one of the few herbivorous ground beetle genera, and on rare occasions Zabrus tenebrioides, for example, occurs abundantly enough to cause some damage to grain crops. Large species, usually Carabinae, can become a nuisance if present in numbers, particularly during outdoor activities such as camping; they void their defensive secretions when threatened, and in hiding among provisions their presence may spoil food. Since ground beetles are generally reluctant or even unable to fly, mechanically blocking their potential routes of entry is usually easy. The use of insecticides specifically for Carabid intrusion may lead to unfortunate side effects, such as the release of their repugnatorial secretions, so it generally is not a good idea unless the same applications are intended to exclude ants, parasites or other crawling pests.
Especially in the 19th century and to a lesser extent today, their large size and conspicuous coloration, as well as the odd morphology of some (e.g. the Lebiini), made many ground beetles a popular object of collection and study for professional and amateur coleopterologists. High prices were paid for rare and exotic specimens, and in the early to mid-19th century, a veritable "beetle craze" occurred in England. As mentioned above, Charles Darwin was an ardent collector of beetles when he was about 20 years old, to the extent that he would rather scour the countryside for rare specimens with William Darwin Fox, John Stevens Henslow, and Henry Thompson than to study theology as his father wanted him to do. In his autobiography, he fondly recalled his experiences with Licinus and Panagaeus, and wrote:
No poet ever felt more delight at seeing his first poem published than I did at seeing in Stephen's Illustrations of British Insects the magic words, "captured by C. Darwin, Esq."
The Adephaga are documented since the end of the Permian, about . Ground beetles evolved in the latter Triassic, having separated from their closest relatives by . The family diversified throughout the Jurassic, and the more advanced lineages, such as the Harpalinae, underwent a vigorous radiation starting in the Cretaceous. The closest living relatives of the ground beetles are the false ground beetles (Trachypachidae) and the wrinkled bark beetles (Rhysodidae). They are sometimes even included in the Carabidae as subfamilies or as tribes incertae sedis, but more preferably they are united with the ground beetles in the superfamily Caraboidea.
Much research has been done on elucidating the phylogeny of the ground beetles and adjusting systematics and taxonomy accordingly. While no completely firm consensus exists, a few points are generally accepted: As it seems, the ground beetles consist of a number of more basal lineages and the extremely diverse Harpalinae which contain over half the described species and into which several formerly independent families had to be subsumed.
The taxonomy used here is based on the Catalogue of Palaearctic Coleoptera and the Carabidae of the World Database. Other classifications, while generally agreeing with the division into a basal radiation of more primitive lineages and the more advanced group informally called "Carabidae Conjunctae", differ in details. For example, the system used by the Tree of Life Web Project makes little use of subfamilies, listing most tribes as incertae sedis as to subfamily. Fauna Europaea, though, splits rather than lumps the Harpalinae, restricting them to what in the system used here is the tribe Harpalini.
All the approaches mentioned above are legitimate as they agree with the phylogeny as far as it has been resolved. The inclusive Harpalinae presented here are used for two reasons, one scientific and one practical – first, the majority of authors presently use this system, following the Catalogue of Palaearctic Coleoptera. Second, the MediaWiki markup cannot at present adequately represent the relationships of the ground beetle subgroups in detail if the restricted view of the Harpalinae is chosen.
Carabinae Latreille, 1802 – including Agoninae and Callistinae
Cicindelinae – tiger beetles (roughly 2,600 species; sometimes included in the Carabidae)
Elaphrinae Latreille, 1802
Loricerinae Bonelli, 1810
Nebriinae (includes Notiophilinae, often included in Carabinae)
Omophroninae Bonelli, 1810 – round sand beetles
Paussinae – ant nest beetles, flanged bombardier beetles
Scaritinae Bonelli, 1810 – pedunculate ground beetles
Siagoninae Bonelli, 1810
Amblytelinae Sloane, 1898[Note 1]
Brachininae – typical bombardier beetles
Dryptinae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Gineminae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Harpalinae (over 20,000 species)
Lebiinae – including Cyclosominae, Mormolycinae, Odacanthinae, Perigoninae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Licininae – including Chlaeniinae, Oodinae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Orthogoniinae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Panagaeinae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Platyninae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Pseudomorphinae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Pterostichinae – including Zabrinae (sometimes in Harpalinae)
Trechinae – including Bembidiinae, Patrobinae
Tribes incertae sedis
Anthia sexguttata, or the six-spot ground beetle, is a beetle of the Family Carabidae.Calathus (beetle)
Calathus is a genus of ground beetle native to the Palearctic (including Europe), the Near East and North Africa. There are at least 190 described species in Calathus.Carabus auratus
Carabus auratus, the golden ground beetle, is a member of the family Carabidae, or ground beetles, native to central and western parts of Europe.Carabus intricatus
Carabus intricatus, the blue ground beetle, is a species of ground beetle found in Europe.It is a large beetle (24–35 millimetres or 0.9–1.4 inches in length), with a metallic purple or blue and roughly surfaced elytra; the second pair of wings (which are used by beetles for flying) under the elytra are reduced. In Britain it was only recorded three times in the twenty years up to 1993 and was considered extinct there. But in 1994 it was found in a couple of places near Dartmoor.Carabus intricatus are nocturnal carnivores that are mainly active in the spring and early summer. Tests have shown they prefer slugs from the genus Limax, especially Limax marginatus. They were also found to have a taste for liver, dog food, and crabsticks.
In the wild, the adults are found under bark on dead wood, and under rocks. It does not require ground vegetation, and likes damp, rotten, moss-covered wood.The beetles seem to be active throughout the year and a fully-grown larva has been found in summer. This specimen also ate slugs prior to pupating, and emerged as an adult some three weeks later. It is thought that it may take two years to complete its life cycle. The adults are very long-lived.Carabus violaceus
Carabus violaceus, sometimes called the violet ground beetle, or the rain beetle is a nocturnal species of a beetle, from a family Carabidae.Carno wind farm
Carno is a wind farm of 68 turbines which started operation in October 1996. It covers an area of over 600 hectares on Trannon Moor, a plateau to the west of the village of Carno in Powys, Mid Wales, 400 metres (1,300 ft) above sea level.Carno currently has the largest production capacity in Wales.
Originally consisting of 56 wind turbines each of 600 kilowatts (kW) maximum output, the combined maximum power of 33.6 megawatts (MW) made Carno the largest Wind Farm in Europe at the time of its construction. The total project cost was approximately £26 million.
Number of turbines: 56 (extended to 68 with Carno 2 in 2008)
Turbine manufacturer: Bonus Energy A/S, Denmark
Turbine rating: 600 kW.
Combined maximum power: 33.6MW
Tower height to hub: 31.5 metres (103 ft)
Blade number and diameter: 3 blades, each 44 metres (144 ft) long
Annual production: 90 million units
Wildlife information: 37 species of birds. 512 species of insects & spiders, including one Red Data Book entry, the nationally scarce Trechus rivularis ground beetle.
Archaeological features: Bronze Age cairns, standing stones and a possible Roman road crossing from east to west.Public footpaths cross the site and are waymarked on Ordnance Survey maps.
In 2008, an extension designated "Carno 2" was completed, bringing the total number of turbines to 68, comprising 12 new Siemens 1.3MW wind turbines with a hub height of 49 metres (161 ft), blade length of 30 metres (98 ft) and rotor diameter of 62 metres (203 ft) giving a tip height of 80 metres (260 ft).Clivina
Clivina is a genus of ground beetle native to the Palearctic, the Nearctic, the Near East and North Africa. There are at least 580 described species in Clivina.Delta green ground beetle
The Delta green ground beetle (Elaphrus viridis) is a species of ground beetle restricted to a small region within Solano County, California. Its color is a metallic-green, usually with bronze spots on its elytra, though some lack these spots. The lack or reduction of circular pits on the elytra helps distinguish it from other ground beetles. Typical adults are about a quarter-inch (0.6 cm) in length.The Delta green ground beetle plays a useful role in its ecosystem by pollinating plants, fruits, and vegetables.
The beetle's common name probably refers to the triangular marking on its pronotum. The species name, viridis, comes from the Latin word for green.Elaphrus
Elaphrus is a genus of ground beetle native to the Palearctic, the Nearctic, the Near East and Northern Africa. It contains the following species:
Elaphrus americanus Dejean, 1831
Elaphrus angulonotus Shi & Liang, 2008
Elaphrus angusticollis R. F. Sahlberg, 1844
Elaphrus aureus P.W.J. Muller, 1821
Elaphrus californicus Mannerheim, 1843
Elaphrus cicatricosus Leconte, 1848
Elaphrus citharus Goulet And Smetana, 1997
Elaphrus clairvillei Kirby, 1837
Elaphrus comatus Goulet, 1983
Elaphrus cupreus Duftschmid, 1812
Elaphrus finitimus Casey, 1920
Elaphrus fuliginosus Say, 1830
Elaphrus hypocrita Semenov, 1926
Elaphrus japonicus Ueno, 1954
Elaphrus laevigatus Leconte, 1852
Elaphrus lapponicus Gyllenhal, 1810
Elaphrus lecontei Crotch, 1876
Elaphrus lheritieri Antoine, 1947
Elaphrus lindrothi Goulet, 1983
Elaphrus marginicollis Goulet, 1983
Elaphrus mimus Goulet, 1983
Elaphrus olivaceus Leconte, 1863
Elaphrus parviceps Van Dyke, 1925
Elaphrus potanini Semenov, 1889
Elaphrus punctatus Motschulsky, 1844
Elaphrus purpurans Hausen, 1891
Elaphrus pyrenoeus Motschulsky, 1850
Elaphrus riparius (Linnaeus, 1758)
Elaphrus ruscarius Say, 1834
Elaphrus sibiricus Motschulsky, 1844
Elaphrus smaragdiceps Semenov, 1889
Elaphrus splendidus Fischer Von Waldheim, 1828
Elaphrus sugai Nakane, 1987
Elaphrus tibetanus Semenov, 1904
Elaphrus trossulus Semenov, 1904
Elaphrus tuberculatus Maklin, 1878
Elaphrus uliginosus Fabricius, 1792
Elaphrus ullrichii W. Redtenbacher, 1842
Elaphrus viridis Horn, 1878
Elaphrus weissi Dostal, 1996Eype Mouth
Eype Mouth is a natural break in a line of sea cliffs on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in west Dorset on the south coast of England. The small River Eype drains into the sea at this point. Eype means 'a steep place' in Old English. The village of Eype (divided into the settlements Lower and Higher Eype) lies just upstream of the rivermouth, which is reached by a single narrow lane which runs down through Lower Eype to a shingle beach with car park.
The coast to the west of the rivermouth is a noted site for rare beetles. Two species found here are unknown elsewhere in Great Britain:
Sphaerius acaroides lives in mud and at plant roots at the edge of standing freshwater pools on the site; this species is particularly noteworthy in that it is the only British representative of the suborder Myxophaga.
the weevil Sitona gemellatus occurs on the site, being found at the roots of leguminous plants (although this species has been recorded in similar habitat at Sidmouth, Devon, it has not been recorded from there recently.Other rare beetles found at this site include the tiger beetle Cicindela germanica, the ground beetle Drypta dentata and the weevil Baris analis.Harpalus (genus)
Harpalus is a genus of ground beetle with about 500 species and subspecies.Harpalus pensylvanicus
Harpalus pensylvanicus is a species of ground beetle in the subfamily Harpalinae. It is found throughout North America. It was described by Degeer in 1774.The adults of the species are shiny black on the top, reddish brown underneath, and the elytra have lines. The larvae are black with a reddish head and the body is tapered with two long cerci. The species food includes the seeds of ragweed and assorted grasses. The species occasionally damages ripening strawberries which is probably how it gets water. It is attracted to lights. The common name of the species is Pennsylvania ground beetle.Hexhamshire Moors
Hexhamshire Moors is a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering an extensive area of moorland in the Wear Valley district of north-west County Durham and the Tynedale district of south-west Northumberland, England.
It is a broadly rectangular area, occupying most of the upland between the valleys of the River East Allen to the west and Devil's Water to the east. The southern part of the site shares boundaries with the Muggleswick, Stanhope and Edmundbyers Commons and Blanchland Moor SSSI to the east and is separated from the Allendale Moors SSSI only by a very narrow strip of the East Allen valley.
The area has one of the largest expanses of blanket bog and heathland in northern England. Acid bogs occur in the vicinity of the numerous flushes that drain the moorland plateau, and localised patches of acid grassland have developed in areas that are regularly grazed by sheep.Floristically, much of the area is species-poor, but there are small populations of some nationally scarce species, including bog orchid, Hammarbya paludosa, which is found on the blanket peat, and forked spleenwort, Asplenium septentrionale, whose presence at one locality in the Northumberland part of the site is, to date, the only known record for that county.
The site's principal importance lies in its nationally important breeding populations of birds: three species—merlin, Eurasian golden plover and short-eared owl—are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection and several others, including red grouse, Eurasian curlew, common redshank, Eurasian oystercatcher and dunlin, are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).Much of the moorland heath also supports a rich assemblage of invertebrates, including several scarce species of ground beetle, Carabidae.
The site is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.Panagaeus cruxmajor
Panagaeus cruxmajor, the crucifix ground beetle, is a rare European ground beetle. In England it occurs in a few places only. Panagaeus bipustulatus is a commoner relative, looking very much alike except for being smaller. The crucifix ground beetle is sometimes included in P. bipustulatus, but most modern authors consider it distinct.
The largely black and rather bristly beetle is 8–10 millimetres (0.31–0.39 in) in length, with large red spots on its wing cases which give the appearance of a red background behind a black cross. It shelters under pieces of wood during the day, and is a nocturnal predatory species thought to mainly feed on semi-aquatic snails.
It was greatly treasured by 19th century collectors, and Charles Darwin recounted an incident when he was an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge around 1828. He had already collected two ground beetles when he "saw a sacred Panagæus crux major". He tried putting one of the other beetles in his mouth to free his hand, but it ejected acrid fluid down his throat, causing him to spit it out and lose all three.Pitsea Marsh
Pitsea Marsh is a 94.6 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in Pitsea in Essex. The southern half is the Wat Tyler Country Park, and the northern half is private land.The site has a variety of habitats, such as grassland, scrub, reedbed, fen, ponds and saltmarsh. It was reclaimed in the seventeenth century, when Pitseahall Fleet was excavated to construct sea walls. The Fleet has a large and varied bird population. Dykes and ponds support the scarce emerald damselfly, and other rare invertebrates include Roesel's bush-cricket, a harvestman Leiobunum rotundum, a hoverfly xanthandrus comtus, and a ground beetle dyschirius impunctipennis.There is access to the country park from Pitsea Hall Lane.Rhyzodiastes xii
Rhyzodiastes xii, known alternatively as the Daddy Xi beetle, is a species of ground beetle that attracted media attention in 2016, when an entomologist named it after the paramount leader of China, Xi Jinping, who is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.Synuchus
Synuchus is a genus of ground beetle native to the Palearctic (including Europe) and the Near East. It contains the following species:
Synuchus adelosia Andrewes, 1934
Synuchus agonoides (Bates, 1889
Synuchus agonus Tschitscherine, 1895
Synuchus amamioshimae Habu, 1978
Synuchus andrewesi Habu, 1955
Synuchus angusticeps Tanaka, 1962
Synuchus angustus Habu, 1978
Synuchus arcuaticollis Motschulsky, 1860
Synuchus assamensis Deuve, 1986
Synuchus atricolor Bates, 1883
Synuchus bellus Habu, 1978
Synuchus brevis Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus breviusculus Mannerheim, 1849
Synuchus calathinus Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus callitheres Bates, 1873
Synuchus cathaicus Bates, 1873
Synuchus chabo Habu, 1955
Synuchus chinensis Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus congruus (A. Morawitz, 1862)
Synuchus coreanus Kinschenhofer, 1990
Synuchus crocatus Bates, 1883
Synuchus cycloderus Bates, 1873
Synuchus dubius (Leconte, 1854)
Synuchus dulcigradus Bates, 1873
Synuchus elburzensis Morvan, 1977
Synuchus formosanus Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus fukuharai Habu, 1955
Synuchus fulvus Habu, 1978
Synuchus gigas Keyimu & Deuve, 1998
Synuchus gravidus Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus hikosanus Habu, 1955
Synuchus himalayicus Jedlicka, 1935
Synuchus impunctatus (Say, 1823)
Synuchus inadai Morita & Arai, 2003
Synuchus intermedius Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus ishigakiensis Morita & Toyoda, 2003
Synuchus keinigus Morvan, 1994
Synuchus laticollis Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus limbalis Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus longipes Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus longissimus Habu, 1978
Synuchus macer Habu, 1978
Synuchus major Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus melantho Bates, 1883
Synuchus microtes Habu, 1978
Synuchus minimus Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus montanus Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus nanpingensis Kirschenhofer, 1997
Synuchus narae Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus nitidus Motschulsky, 1861
Synuchus nordmanni A. Morawitz, 1862
Synuchus orbicollis A. Morawitz, 1862
Synuchus pallidulus Habu, 1978
Synuchus pallipes Andrewes, 1934
Synuchus patroboides Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus picicolor Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus pinguiusculus Habu, 1978
Synuchus pseudomorphus Semenov, 1889
Synuchus pulcher Habu, 1978
Synuchus rectangulus Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus rjabuchinii Lafer, 1989
Synuchus robustus Habu, 1978
Synuchus rufofuscus Jedlicka, 1940
Synuchus rufulus Habu, 1978
Synuchus satoi Morita & Toyoda, 2003
Synuchus semirufus (Casey, 1913)
Synuchus shibatai Habu, 1978
Synuchus sichuanensis Kirschenhofer, 1997
Synuchus sikkimensis Andrewes, 1934
Synuchus sinomeridionalis Keyimu & Deuve, 1998
Synuchus sinuaticollis Habu, 1978
Synuchus suensoni Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus taiwanus Habu, 1978
Synuchus takeuchii Habu, 1955
Synuchus tanzawanus Habu, 1955
Synuchus testaceus Jedlicka, 1940
Synuchus tokararum Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus truncatus Habu, 1978
Synuchus ventricosus Lindroth, 1956
Synuchus vivalis Illiger, 1798
Synuchus yasumatsui Habu, 1955Trachypachidae
The Trachypachidae (or sometimes false ground beetles) are a family of beetles that generally resemble small ground beetles, but that are distinguished by the large coxae of their rearmost legs. There are only six known extant species in the family, with four species of Trachypachus found in northern Eurasia and northern North America, and two species of Systolosoma in Chile. They were much more diverse in the past, with many members belonging to the extinct subfamily Eodromeinae, the first fossils known of this family are of the genera Petrodromeus and Permunda from the Permian-Triassic boundary of Russia.Their habits are similar to those of the ground beetles; they are usually found in the leaf litter of conifer forests.
To quote G. E. Ball, "the most interesting thing about this small family is its uncertain phylogenetic relationships"; it has been classified as a subfamily of Carabidae, and as a family been placed in several different positions relative to other beetle families.Trechinae
Trechinae is a subfamily in the ground beetle family, Carabidae.
Extant Coleoptera families