Insects > Beetles > Types of Beetles

Types of Beetles

Types of Beetles

Scientific name: Coleoptera
Rank: Order
Higher classification: Endopterygota
Lifespan: 0.027 – 0.038 y (Callosobruchus maculatus), 0.25 – 0.5 y (Dynastes tityus)
Length: 4 – 6 cm (Dynastes tityus, Adult, Male), 1 cm (Colorado potato beetle)
Lower classifications: Myxophaga, Adephaga, Archostemata, Polyphaga, Protocoleoptera

Beetles are the flying insects belonging to the order Coleoptera, in which, more than 3,50,000 described species are placed. It means, about one third of the described animal species may be beetles.  Thus, it is considered to be the largest collection of living organisms and believed to be in existence since 270 million years ago.
Beetle family is very diverse and wide. Found in almost every part of the world, they are the most common insects thriving in a varied range of habitats except polar and marine regions. The food habits also differ in each and every species, depending on their habitat. Some feed on plants and leaves, whereas some are carnivorous; they catch insects or invertebrates to eat. There are also other types like beetles feeding on fungus, pollens, crustacean and other insects.

Types of Beetles

The Coleoptera is a very large group of insects, and is the largest order belonging to the class Insecta. It has been classified into 5 suborders namely,

Suborder Adephaga

This suborder is the second largest of the Coleoptera order that hosts around 40,000 known species of beetles categorized into 10 families. The families under this suborder are:

  • Carabidae Latreille
Ground BeetleGround Beetle - Photo by: Shaun E.

This family includes the commonly known Ground beetles. Known as one of the ten largest families of animals, it is composed of a large group of cosmopolitan beetles, with approximately 40,000 species or more.

  • Gyrinidae
Whirligig Beetle Whirligig Beetle - Photo by: CSIRO

The beetles of this family are commonly known as Whirligig Beetles that can swim on the water surface as well as under the water, when threatened. These water beetles acquired their name from their way of swimming in their habitat.

  • Noteridae
Water Beetle Water Beetle - Photo by: L. Shyamal

 

Neutered is a family of the Water Beetles closely related to the Dytiscidae, and formerly placed with them. They are mainly distinguished by the presence of a distinctive "noterid platform" underneath, in the form of a plate between the second and third pair of legs. The family consists of about 230 species in 14 genera, and is found worldwide, especially in the tropics. They are sometimes referred as ‘burrowing water beetles’.

  • Amphizoidae
  • Dytiscidae
  • Aspidytidae
  • Dytiscidae
  • Haliplidae
  • Meruidae
  • Hygrobiidae
  • Rhysodidae
  • Trachypachidae

 

Suborder Archostemata

It is the smallest suborder placed in the Coleoptera order that has only five families with less than fifty identified species. The family included in this sub-order are-:

  • Crowsoniellidae
Crowsoniellidae

This mono-typical family in the Archostemata suborder consists of just a single species referred as, Crowsoniella Relicta. This beetle is very minute, attaining a length of 1.8 millimeter.

  • Micromalthidae
Micromalthus debilis
Micromalthus debilis - Photo by: David R. Maddison

This family is usually known as a group of extinct species, except the telephone-pole beetle, biologically known as Micromalthus Debilis. This beetle inhabits  the eastern parts of the United States.

  • Ommatidae
  • Cupedidae
  • Jurodidae

 

Suborder Myxophaga

Myxophaga suborder is the second smallest group of Coleopteraorder, first being Archostemata. This suborder consists of just four families comprising 65 species of tiny beetles. The beetles of this suborder are either semi-aquatic or aquatic in nature.

  •  Hydroscaphidae
Hydroscapha natans
Hydroscapha natans - Photo by: David R. Maddison

The Hydroscaphidae family is small, consisting of mere 23 species of water beetles. These beetles are commonly referred as  Skiff  Beetles.

  •  Lepiceridae
  • Torridincolidae
  • Sphaeriusidae

Suborder Polyphaga

Polyphaga suborder is the largest in the Coleoptera order, consisting of the most diverse forms of beetles. This sub-order consist of 144 families classified under 16 super families. These families consist of variety of adapted and specialized beetles, counting to around 3, 00,000 identified species.

The Infraorder Bostrichiformia

Bostrichiformia is the name given to an the -Infraorder in which, beetles from Polyphaga group is placed. This infrared comprise of two super families, namely, Bostrichoidea and Derodontoidea.

  • Superfamily Bostrichoidea

Bostrichoidea Superfamily consists of beetles from the group of Bostrichiformia Infraorder. The families belonging to this super-family are-:

  • Anobiidae
Wood Borer Beetle
Wood Borer Beetle

This family includes the beetles that feed on wood. In the larvae stage, they bore into the wood and destroy the tree, due to which they are commonly termed as “wood borer” or “wood worm”.

  • Bostrichidae
Auger Beetle
Auger Beetle - Photo by: CSIRO

The Bostrichidae family consists of more than 700 identified species of beetles. The beetles of this family are commonly known as False Powder Post Beetles, auger beetles and the Horned Powder Post Beetles.

  • Dermestidae
  • Nosodendridae
  • Jacobsoniidae
  • Superfamily Derodontoidea
Laricobius erichsoni
Laricobius erichsoni - Photo by: James Lindsey

Derodontidae is a Superfamily of beetles that has only one family with the same name, Derodontoidea. Some species of this family are known as the Tooth-Necked Fungus Beetles. This beetle is usually found small in size, around 2 to 6 mm long.

 

The Infraorder Cucujiformia

This Infraorder consist of plant eating beetles in six super-families, namely,

  • Superfamily Chrysomeloidea

This Superfamily has more than a thousand varieties of species. Most of the species are considered as plant pests. The families in this Superfamily are-:

  • Cerambycidae
Long Horned Beetle
Long Horned Beetle - Photo by: Kyle T. Ramirez

 

The beetles in this family are known as “Long Horned Beetles”, mainly due to their long antennae that are longer than their body length.

  • Chrysomelidae
Leaf Beetle
Leaf Beetle

In this family, there are more than 35,000 species of beetles distributed into 2500 genera. These beetles are commonly referred as Leaf Beetles

  • Megalopodidae
  • Orsodacnidae
  • Superfamily Cleroidea

Chloride Superfamily is small and consists of only a few families. Most of the beetles in this group are hairy and slender in appearance. The families’ are-:

  • Acanthocnemidae

Acanthocnemus Nigricans is known as Polyphaga species and belongs to the family Acanthocnemidae. This is only species in this family.

  • Cleridae
Checkered Beetle
Checkered Beetle - Photo by: Didier Descouens

This beetle family consists of beetles that are commonly referred as Checkered Beetles. It is distributed worldwide and are seen in diverse habitats.

  • Melyridae
  • Chaetosomatidae
  • Phloiophilidae
  • Prionoceridae
  • Phycosecidae
  • Trogossitidae
  • Superfamily Cucujoidea
Lady Beetle
Lady Beetle

Cucujoidea is a beetles. They include many fungus beetles, as well as Lady Beetles ("ladybugs" or "ladybirds")

Biphyllidae

False Flower Beetles
False Flower Beetles - Photo by: Guido Bohne

Biphyllidae is a family of beetles that are also referred as False Skin Beetles. Around 195 species of this family is identified worldwide. They mainly eat fungi and are found under the tree barks.

  • Cucujidae
Red Flat Bark Beetle Larva
Red Flat Bark Beetle Larva - Photo by: Andrew C.

The Cucujidae beetles, also known as "Flat Bark Beetles” is a family consisting of flat shaped beetles. There are around four genera that consist of 59 species, some of which are:

  • Boganiidae
  • Alexiidae
  • Bothrideridae
  • Cavognathidae
  • Byturidae
  • Cerylonidae
  • Corylophidae 
  • Coccinellidae
  •  Cryptophagidae 
  • Discolomatidae 
  • Erotylidae
  • Helotidae
  • Endomychidae
  • Hobartiidae
  • Laemophloeidae
  • Kateretidae
  • Lamingtoniidae
  • Latridiidae
  • Languriidae
  • Monotomidae
  • Passandridae
  • Phloeostichidae
  • Nitidulidae
  • Propalticidae
  • Protocucujidae
  • Phalacridae
  • Sphindidae
  • Silvanidae
  • Smicripidae
  • Superfamily Curculionoidea

A weevil is a type of beetle from the Curculionoidea Superfamily. They are usually small, less than 6 millimeters (0.24 in), and herbivorous. The families’ are-:

  • Anthribidae
Fungus Weevil
Fungus Weevil - Photo by: Donald Jusa

The Anthribidae family  consists of Fungus Weevils as members. The antennae are more threadlike, and are rarely longer than the body size.

  • Belidae
Primitive Weevil
Primitive Weevil - Photo by: Guido Bohne

The Belidae  family  is a group of weevils that are referred as Primitive Weevils. They acquired the name because they possess straight antennae.

  • Endomychidae
  • Ithyceridae
  • Attelabidae
  • Curculionidae 
  • Brentidae
  • Caridae
  • Superfamily Lymexyloidea
Ship-Timber  Beetle
Ship-Timber Beetle - Photo by: Bernard DUPONT

The beetles of the Lymexloidea Superfamily are commonly known as Ship-Timber Beetles. They are basically a group of wood-boring types. This beetle is the only species present in the Lymexloidea Superfamily. This beetle attains a length of around 5-40 mm.

Superfamily Tenebrionoidea

This super family is quite diverse and large that consist of many beetle families. Those families are-:

  • Aderidae

The Aderidae family consists of beetles that looks similar to the ants. This family comprises of around 50 genera and more than 1000 species of beetles. This group of beetles has a worldwide distribution, though, most of them are found in tropical areas.

  • Mordellidae
Tumbling Flower Beetle
Tumbling Flower Beetle - Photo by: Beatriz Moisset

This family comprises of beetles that are commonly referred as  Tumbling Flower Beetles. They get the name from their typical running behavior, while escaping from the predators. In this group, more than 1500 species have been identified.

  • Anthicidae
  • Boridae
  • Archeocrypticidae
  • Chalcodryidae
  • Melandryidae
  • Ciidae
  • Mycteridae
  • Mycetophagidae
  • Oedemeridae
  • Perimylopidae
  • Prostomidae
  • Pyrochroidae
  • Meloidae
  • Pythidae
  • Ripiphoridae
  • Pterogeniidae
  • Scraptiidae
  • Salpingidae
  • Stenotrachelidae
  • Synchroidae
  • Tetratomidae
  • Tenebrionidae
  • Trachelostenidae
  • Ulodidae
  • Trictenotomidae
  • Zopheridae

Infraorder Elateriformia

Polyphaga suborder is the largest in the Coleoptera order, consisting of the most diverse forms of beetles. This sub-order consist of 144 families classified under 16 super families. These families consist of variety of adapted and specialized beetles, counting to around 3, 00,000 identified species.

  • Superfamily Buprestoidea

It is a small Superfamily consisting of two beetle families, namely,

  • Buprestidae
Jewel Beetle
Jewel Beetle - Photo by: John Tann

Buprestidae family from the Buprestoidae Superfamily is a group of beetles, known as metallic wood-boring or jewel beetles due to their shiny iridescent color. It is a large family with above 450 genera and 15000 species. Even fossils of 100 species belonging to this family have been identified..

  • Superfamily Byrrhoidea

The Byrrhoidea is a Superfamily of beetle, out of which, many species are found in aquatic or semi-aquatic habitats. Most of the species are smaller than 1cm in length and often seen in black or brown color.  The list of families in this Superfamily are-:

  • Byrrhidae
Pill Beetle
Pill Beetle - Photo by: Guido Bohne

Byrrhidae family comprises of beetles, known as the Pill Beetles. They are largely found in the Northern Hemisphere forests. These beetles primarily  eat moss.

  • Heteroceridae

The Heteroceridae family is a group of beetles, that are commonly referred as Variegated Mud-Loving Beetles. This is a comparatively very common beetle family that is spread worldwide, and is seen on every continent, besides Antarctica.

  • Chelonariidae
  • Callirhipidae
  • Cneoglossidae
  • Elmidae
  • Dryopidae
  • Eulichadidae
  • Lutrochidae
  • Psephenidae
  • Limnichidae
  • Ptilodactylidae
  • Superfamily Dascilloidea

This Superfamily comprises of Polyphaga Beetles as members.  It consists of two beetle families.

  • Dascillidae
  • Rhipiceridae
  • Superfamily Elateroidea
Soldier Beetle
Soldier Beetle

The Elateroidea Superfamily is a large group comprising of many families. These families include species like Soldier Beetles, Click Beetles and Fireflies. The names of the families’ are:

  • Brachypsectridae
Texas Beetle
Texas Beetle - Photo by: Steve Prutz

The Brachypsectridae family of beetles is a small group that consists of very few species.
The beetles of this family are commonly named as the Texas Beetles.

  • Lampyridae
Lightning Bug
Lightning Bug - Photo by: Geoff Gallice

This family is comprised of firefly beetles that are also referred as Lightning Bugs.

  • Cerophytidae
  • Artematopodidae
  • Cantharidae
  • Elateridae
  • Drilidae
  • Eucnemidae
  • Lycidae
  • Omethidae
  • Omalisidae
  • Phengodidae
  • Podabrocephalidae
  • Plastoceridae
  • Telegeusidae
  • Rhinorhipidae
  • Throscidae
  • Superfamily Scirtoidea

The Superfamily Scirtoidea is a small group of beetles belonging to the suborder  Polyphaga. The four subfamilies of this Superfamily are-:

  • Clambidae
Clambus punctulum
Clambus punctulum - Photo by: Udo Schmidt

The Clambidae family is a group of beetles that are also commonly termed as Fringe-Winged Beetles or Minute Beetles. 

  • Eucinetidae
Plate-thigh beetles
Plate-thigh beetles - Photo by: S.E. Thorpe

Eucinetidae is a  family  of  beetles , notable for their large coxal plates that cover much of the first ventrite of the abdomen, sometimes called plate-thigh beetles (Eucinetidae). The family is small for beetles, with about 37 species in nine genera, that are found worldwide.

  • Scirtidae
  • Decliniidae

The Infraorder Scarabaeiformia

Scarabaeiformia Infraorder has only one suborder of beetles, which comprise of the only Superfamily Scarabaeoidea. There are more than 35,000 species in this infraorder.

  • Superfamily Scarabaeoidea

The Superfamily Scarabaeoidea is a large group of beetles with many species. More than 200 species are discovered every year. The families consisting in this Superfamily are-:

  • Belohinidae

The Belohina Inexpectata species is the only member of the Belohinidae family. It is a native to the southern parts of Madagascar.

  • Diphyllostomatidae

The beetles of this family are known as the False Stag Beetles.  The families in this superfamily are-:

  • Bolboceratidae
  • Glaphyridae
  • Ceratocanthidae
  • Geotrupidae
  • Glaresidae
  • Lucanidae
  • Hybosoridae
  • Lucanus
  • Passalidae
  • Ochodaeidae
  • Pleocomidae
  • Trogidae
  • Scarabaeinae
  • Scarabeinae
    Scarabeinae

The Infraorder Staphyliniformia

The Infraorder Staphyliniformia is a large group of beetles that consist of more than 60,000 identified species, widespread throughout the world.

  • Superfamily Hydrophiloidea

The Hydrophiloidea Superfamily is a small group of beetles. The Water Scavenger Beetles belong to this Superfamily. The other families are-:

Scarabeinae
Hister Sinuatus - Illustration by: Georgiy Jacobson

This family is a group of Clown beetles that are also known as Hister Beetles. It exhibits diverse species of beetles, and is comprised of around 3900 species, spread worldwide..

  • Hydrophilidae
Scavenger Beetle
Scavenger Beetle

This family consists of beetles that are known as water Scavenger Beetles.

    • Sphaeritidae
    • Synteliidae
  • Superfamily Staphylinoidea

The Staphylinoidea Superfamily exhibit a diverse and large group of beetles that is distributed worldwide. The names of the families’ are-:

  • Agyrtidae
Primitive Carrion Beetle
Primitive Carrion Beetle - Photo by: S.E. Thorpe

The Agyrtidae family of beetles, also known as ‘primitive carrion beetles’ is from the Polyphaga group. Most of the species are found in the northern hemisphere temperate areas and in some parts of New Zealand.

Hydraenidae Family

Hydraena ambiflagellata
Hydraena ambiflagellata - Photo by: S.E. Thorpe

The Hydraenidae Family is a group of tiny beetle living in aquatic habitat. This group of beetles has worldwide distribution. Generally, a beetle of this group attains a size of 1 to 3mm; very rare species also reach 7mm.

    • Ptiliidae
    • Leiodidae
    • Scydmaenidae
    • Staphylinidae
    • Silphidae

Suborder Protocoleoptera

The Protocoleoptera suborder is considered to be extinct. This suborder does not have any Infraorder, but comprises of three super families,

  • Superfamily Tshekardocoleoidea
    • Tshekardocoleoidae
    • Labradorocoleoidae
    • Oborocoleoidae
  • Superfamily Permocupedoidea
    • Permocupedidae
    • Taldycupedidae
  • Superfamily Permosynoidea

The Permosynoidea Superfamily consists of 17 beetle families, and is a member of the extinct Protocoleptera suborder. The families’ are-:

    • Ademosyndidae
    • Permosynidae

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