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.

Family Brentidae

The common name for this family of beetles is straight snouted weevils. Over 1,700 species are known worldwide. One of the more commonly encountered species is shown on this page.

Family Buprestidae

Members of the family Buprestidae are called jewel beetles or metallic wood-boring beetles. Some of the more commonly encountered species are shown on this page.

Family Cantharidae

The common name for this family is soldier beetle. There are over 5,000 species known worldwide; over 450 species are known from North America.

Family Carabidae

Members of the family Carabidae are often called ground beetles. There are over 40,000 species known worldwide; over 2,000 of these are found in North America.

Family Cerambycidae

Members of the family Cerambycidae are often called long-horned beetles due to their long antennae. There are over 26,000 species known worldwide. Larvae typically bore in wood.

Family Cleridae

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.

Family Coccinellidae

These beetles are commonly called ladybugs (in North America). Roughly 6,000 species are known worldwide; slightly less than 500 species are known from North America.

Family Elateridae

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.

Family Geotrupidae

The common name for these insects is earth boring beetle.

Family Hydrophilidae

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.

Family Lampyridae

The common name for this family is firefly/ lightning bug. There are over 2,000 species known worldwide.

Family Lucanidae

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.

Family Meloidae

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.

Family Passalidae

The common name for these insects is “Bess Beetle.” One species is found in central Illinois. Both adults and larvae are typically encountered only in rotting wood.

Family Phengodidae

These beetles are commonly called glowworm beetles. There are roughly 3,500 species known in this family of beetles; about 500 are known from North America.

Family Rhipiceridae

The common name for these relatively rare beetles is cicada parasite beetle.

Family Scarabaeidae

Scarab beetles are commonly encountered in central Illinois. These are some examples.

Family Silphidae

The common name for this family of beetles is carrion beetles.