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Insect week: Carabid beetles (ground beetles)

This week the Royal Entomological Society celebrates the small creatures that keep the world going. Supported by partner organisations throughout the UK and Europe, it is possible to get involved in insect science wherever you are. Wherever you live, it’s an opportunity to take part in insect science, get to know insects, learn from experts, and have fun.


This week, I would like to celebrate the insects that play an often-overlooked role in keeping our crops healthy by focusing on key insects in agriculture.


Today, we celebrate Carabid Beetles!


Carabid beetles, otherwise known as ground beetles, are a broad name for all members of the Carabidae family of beetles. These bugs are very cosmopolitan, meaning that family members are found across the globe. In the UK alone, there are around 350 species, but worldwide there are around 40,000! This makes them one of the top ten most species rich animal families. Now, given this high number it should be no surprise that there are an enormous variety of species and a wide range of sizes, colours, and patterns.


Though a rare few are herbivores, most Carabids are carnivores, this means that they feed on other insects. The reason why this is useful is because a lot of those other insects are pests. Similar to ladybirds that hunt aphids, a carabid’s prey on many different insect species, however, as per their name, these beetles hunt on the ground. This means that their targets are more down to earth, though some species can also climb stalks to feed. This food takes the form of aphids, mites, moth larvae, beetle larvae and more. Some omnivorous species have also been known to feed on weed seeds as well. Without seed predators such as carabid beetles, it is estimated that weed emergence would increase up to 30% every year! This makes carabid beetles one of the most voracious generalist predators that contribute to pest suppression on farms.


More fun facts about Carabid beetles:

  • These beetles range in size from 0.7-66mm.

  • Due to their slow reproductive rate, pesticide use has had a negative impact on Carabid beetle populations.

  • Conservation efforts, such as maintaining unfarmed grassy regions around agricultural fields are also helpful for encouraging Carabid beetle populations.

  • Carabids can produce noxious secretions that deter predators. Some, such as bombardier beetles combine these secretions with volatile compounds, so when they are released there is a loud popping sound and the acrid gas can kill predators and may even injure small animals!


Come back tomorrow to learn about another important critter!


If you are interested in learning about how you can support the survival of these important insect species please check out the resources available at: https://www.insectweek.org/




If you would like to learn more:


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