Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Devil's Coach Horse - (Ocypus olens)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/12/2014

The Devil's Coach Horse earned their name in part for their vicious bite, but also for their stinky spray.

The all-black body of the Devil's Coach Horse is just the one reason to think this a nefarious creature. Its elytra (wing covering) has no shine and appears dull in any kind of light. The abdominal segments are easily to distinguish. This member of the Rove Beetle family can inflict a painful stab from its massive jaws to an unsuspecting human hand.

The Devil's Coach Horse takes on an interesting look when disturbed or threatened, giving potential predators as well as unheeding humans fair warning. It will raise its abdomen forward, akin to a scorpion and its tail, and then open an internal gland that shoots out a yellowish foul-smelling fluid.

Devil's Coach Horses are not native to the United States and originated from Europe. Despite being exotic, they have established themselves in the Western and Southwestern regions of the United States. They normally prey on snails and slugs and can be found low altitudes and moist areas such as in parks and gardens where more regular watering may occur.

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Category: Beetle
Common name: Devil's Coach Horse
Scientific Name: Ocypus olens

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Coleoptera
      Family: Staphylinidae
       Genus: Ocypus
        Species: olens

Adult Size (Length): 17mm to 33mm (0.67in to 1.30in)

Identifying Colors: black

Additional Descriptors: pointy, biting, helpful

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Arizona; California; Colorado; Nevada; Oregon; South Dakota; Washington; Mexico

* 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.