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Ground Beetles

Summary: Ground beetles are not harmful to humans. In fact, ground beetles actually help keep your garden looking beautiful by eating harmful insects.

There are over 3,000 species of ground beetles worldwide and about 2,200 species in North America. Looks like the Osmond family has some competition.

Ground beetles have long legs and small hind wings. They usually have beady little heads, big thoraces, and long antennae (not the kind you had on top of your TV set when you were a kid). Most people could easily confuse ground beetles with cockroaches. The main difference is that the beetles have hard wings; cockroaches either do not have wings or have softer wings.

Ground beetles do not like to reside indoors, which is good news for humans. However, they may live around your home or office in damp, cool places, such as in crevices or under rocks, tree bark, or boards. They are not very active during the day, but come out from hiding at night to find food.

Speaking of food, the meals for ground beetles consist of decaying wood, worms, snails, caterpillars, root maggots, other insects, and even other beetles! (Fact of the day: Ground beetles suck out the bodies of snails to eat them and leave their shells alone.) So, if some insects are invading your yard and bugging you, then having ground beetles around may help eliminate them.

If you see a ground beetle crawling around your garden, chances are he has already indulged in the leaves of your plants and his larvae may have eaten the roots of your plants. You can take an empty glass jar and gently scoop up the ground beetle and his family. However, if you have decaying wood in your backyard, you may want to leave any ground beetles nearby because they will help decompose the decaying matter.

A ground beetle's larvae are typically white, yellow or black in coloration. They have sharp mandibles, so do not pick them up or you will be bitten. Egg laying is done during the warm months of the year and the beetles mature throughout the winter.

Beetles cannot fly as easily as other flying insects. and since flying is not the best form of defense for any type of beetle, it will scamper away if in the presence of humans or predators. To protect itself, ground beetles may give off a nasty odor.

One type of ground beetle is the searcher. It is about an inch and a half long and violet, blue, or green in coloration. Watch out for this one, though. It gives off a fluid that is dangerous to humans and can burn or blister skin! The bombardier beetle is another type of ground beetle that gives off a hot, dangerous substance. Check out's article on bombardier beetles for more information.

The fiddle beetle, another species of ground beetle, has a head that looks like a violin. Unfortunately, it cannot play œThe Devil Went Down to Georgia. However, it can use its slender head to poke in and out of tight openings to search for food.

Here are some tips for dealing with ground beetles:

  • Never leave decaying wood near any entrances to your home because you will be inviting a number of pests inside.
  • If a ground beetle does get inside, use a broom to sweep it into a dustpan or jar and carry it outside.
  • Caulking any cracks or crevices in the foundation of your home with Xcluder is an excellent preventative measure to take against insect infestation.
  • Granular pesticides such as Talstar Granules,  can be used on ground beetles, but follow all label directions so you don't accidentally contaminate something you intend to eat later.

Because they do not pose a threat to humans, it is better to relocate the ground beetles instead of killing them.

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