Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Darkling Beetle - (Eleodes spp.)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/4/2016

Darkling Beetles may be slow and look unassuming, but the abdomen of these desert-dwellers harbors a secret weapon worth avoiding.

Darkling beetles tend to walk with their heads down, as if they are looking for lost glasses. This results in their abdomen being lifted higher than the head. Many stand still if disturbed, but eventually raise their back end into to air in preparation for defense. They are capable of discharging a foul-smelling secretion from the tip of the abdomen toward a would-be attacker. This advantage is also seen in skunks, so this type of beetle is also known as a Skunk Beetle. A face-full of this disgusting chemical usually scares off predators. That said, there is a species of field mouse that feeds on Darkling Beetles and has been countering such attacks by holding the beetle's butt down to the ground and biting its head off first.

This type of beetle can be found roaming the arid Sonoran desert, especially around mesquite and oak trees. It burrows under the sand when intense daylight heats up the ground, and comes out at night to look for food in the cooler climate. Its diet consists of fungi, animal detritus and plant matter. The wings of this genus are fused shut to retain moisture so they are not able to fly. To see adult Darkling Beetles, click below:

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Category: Beetle
Common name: Darkling Beetle
Scientific Name: Eleodes spp.
Other Names: Skunk Beetle, Head Stander Beetle

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Coleoptera
      Family: Tenebrionidae
       Genus: Eleodes
        Species: spp.

Adult Size (Length): 25mm to 35mm (0.98in to 1.38in)

Identifying Colors: black

Additional Descriptors: slow, tilted, head-down, stink, shiny, smell, discharge

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina;Tennessee; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Ontario; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.