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Insect week: Rove 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 Rove beetles!

Rove beetles are members of the Staphylinidae family, the largest beetle family with over 66,000 species. Though, it is expected that over 75% of tropical species are currently unknown. Since the group is so diverse sizes can range from 35mm to less than 1mm! Most of these beetles are quite recognisable, since rather than round and stout, they are long and stretched out, superficially, they resemble earwigs. These beetles are known to be found in every habitat in which beetles can occur. They live in leaf litter and similar environments as well as under stones and around freshwater. Almost 400 species even live near oceans where they are submerged at high tide.

These beetles’ diet includes just about anything. It used to be thought that they could not eat the living tissues of higher plants (the kind with vascular systems) however even this was disproved with the discovery of Himalusa thailandensis. Most species are insectivorous as both larvae and as adults. This means that they can feed on pests. It is because of this that some useful species have been purposefully introduced outside of their native range in an attempt for them to act as biological control agents. Another useful aspect is their sensitivity to environmental changes, this means we can use them as indicators of ecological disturbance.

More fun facts about Rove beetles:

  • Fossilised Rove beetles have been discovered from the Triassic period, 200 million years ago, and they have probably existed for even longer.

  • Some species excrete a liquid than can irritate skin with a condition known as dermatitis linearis. This substance is highly toxic, more potent than cobra venom.

  • Rove beetles can fold themselves up similar to origami.

  • When threatened, Rove beetles raise the ends of their tails threateningly like scorpions, but they have no sting.

  • Although they don’t form colonies, some species live alongside ants and termites in their hives. The beetles produce a fluid that the ants can eat and they get given food in return.

Thank you for showing an interest in Insect week this year!

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:

If you would like to learn more:


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