Central Illinois Beetles
Roughly 1 in 4 of all terrestrial animals encountered is a beetle (yes, 25%). Beetles are often identified as adults because their front wings are hardened into protective coverings for their hind wings (which are used for flight). In fact, the scientific name for the order (Coleoptera) comes from the Greek words for “sheathed wing” – referring to the armored front wings. Adults are often attracted to lights and various food sources (ranging from nectar to rotting meat). There are over 400,000 described species of beetles. Obviously, the pages linked below are a small snapshot of some beetles in central Illinois we have encountered and find interesting. Please reach out to us if you have questions or would like to participate in our monthly meetings.
Click on the image of any beetle on this page and you will see a larger image in a pop-up. If you would like to see more examples (or additional photos) of any of these families of beetles, click on the family name (it is a link to a separate page).
Please be considerate of the fact that all images on these pages are copyrighted. Do not use them for any purpose without first contacting us (there is a contact form on our main page for this site). Each photo represents the stitching together of an average of 2,000 individual photos of a beetle (taken at intervals of roughly 5 to 10 microns). This allows us to show much greater “depth of field” for such small animals. Where possible, we try to depict multiple views of a given beetle (such as top, side, and front). This means we have spent hours creating the images you see on these pages. Please respect that these are copyrighted.
We have arranged these pages with each beetle family listed in alphabetical order. These are only a small fraction of the beetles one would encounter in central Illinois. Obviously, we will be expanding on these pages by adding new species as we complete the photographs.
Members of this family are commonly called checkered beetles. There are roughly 3,500 species known in this family of beetles; about 500 are known from North America. Some species are known to live up to three years.
Members of the family Elateridae are called click beetles. There are over 9,000 species known worldwide; over 900 are found in North America. Larvae are often called wireworms and feed on decaying materials.
Members of the family Hydrophilidae are often called water scavenger beetles. Both larvae and adults are predators (despite their common name). Their maxillary palps are often longer than their antennae. There are over 2,800 species known worldwide.
The common name for these insects is stag beetle. Five species are found in Illinois; only one is commonly encountered in central Illinois. Photographs of all 5 species are included on this page.
Blister beetles defend themselves with a blistering agent called cantharadin. There are over 7,500 species known worldwide; over 400 species are known from North America. Many adults are brightly colored as a warning to potential predators.