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Beetles - More Good than Bad Newsletter


Beetles - More Good than Bad

Most of the beetles you see in the garden and around the home are actually beneficial - not pests at all. The most common beneficial beetles are listed and explained briefly below with links to the more detailed info in the library of These insects are highly interesting, don’t hurt anything and are very beneficial because they eat insect pests or help improve the soil.


Ladybugs or lady beetles are the poster child for beneficial insects. Adults are shiny round beetles with short legs and antennae. Adult beetles come in many colors - black, red, orange, yellow or gray. Larvae are dark gray or black with yellow, orange, or white side markings. They look like small alligators with three pair of distinct legs. Short spines on each segment. Eggs are yellow ovals laid in clusters. Adults and larvae both eat pest insects. More info: Ladybug

Ground Beetles 

Dark, sometimes metallic-colored, shiny, fast-moving, ground-dwelling, long-legged beetles. Adults have long threadlike antennae. Many have prominent eyes. Some have grooves or pits on the forewings. Those active at night are often black. Day hunters are sometimes brightly colored. Larvae are slender, slightly flattened, and tapered at the tail, which has two hairlike projections. Both larvae and adult eat caterpillars and many other insect pests. More info: Ground Beetle



Firefly adults, which yes are beetles, don't eat much of anything, but larvae are carnivorous and eat other insect larvae, snails and slugs. They don’t eat plants, sting or do anything unwanted, but they are delightful to have in the garden and to see flashing at night. More info: Firefly

Soldier Beetles 

Adults are long, narrow, soft-bodied beetles, often orange or red with black or brown wings. Both larvae and adults are easily identified by their velvety covering. Wings are soft and parchment-like and don’t always reach the tip of the abdomen. Soldier beetles like to do their hunting for aphids and other small insect pests in yarrow, daisies, and other flowering plants. More info: Soldier Beetle

Dung Beetles

These dark “tumblebugs” roll manure into balls as large or larger than themselves. Female adults lay eggs in the balls and bury them to supply food for the larvae. Some adults dig burrows below the dung piles. The larvae hatch and feed to the manure. This whole process disposes of manure and increases the health of the soil. More info: Dung Beetle


Rove Beetles

Fast-moving brownish or black beetles with very short front wings that leave much of the abdomen uncovered. Full-length hind wings are folded and concealed beneath the stubby front wings. When disturbed, they turn up the tip of their abdomen and assume a stinging pose. Larvae look like adults without wings. Active at night. Predators of aphids, springtails, mites, nematodes, slugs, fly eggs, and maggots. They are scavengers and predators. More info: Rove Beetle


Tiger Beetles 

Adults are shiny, dark blue-green or black, often with bright-colored markings, large eyes and long legs. They are fast runners and strong fliers; they make a buzzing sound. Larvae are segmented and S-shaped; a hump on their back has hooks for anchoring in burrows. Adults and larvae eat many plant-eating insects. Adult beetles run their prey down. Larvae ambush them from their burrows. Ants are a favorite food. More info: Tiger Beetle

Here are some other useful resources from

To discuss this newsletter or any other topic, tune in each Sunday 8am - 11am central time to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The call-in phone number is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or click here to find a station in your area.

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Naturally yours,

Howard Garrett
The Dirt Doctor

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