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Blue Death-Feigning Beetle (Asbolus verrucosus)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Blue Death-Feigning Beetle, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/8/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Blue Death-Feigning Beetle  
Picture of Blue-Death-Feigning-Beetle
Picture of Blue-Death-Feigning-Beetle Picture of Blue-Death-Feigning-Beetle

The Blue Death-Feigning Beetle is excellent at playing opossum for as long as it takes to convince predators to move along.

Blue Death-Feigning Beetles are native to the Mojave and Sonoran Desert regions in the Southwest U.S., but their range extends to surrounding states and Mexico. Unlike other Darkling Beetles, they are unable to secrete a noxious chemical to deter would-be predators. Instead, they have a remarkable ability to appear dead, often tricking humans as well as natural predators. A frightened beetle will quickly roll onto its back and bend all of its legs in order to appear dried out and dead to an approaching threat. The hope is that the predator will pass by, preferring fresh and juicy prey. The beetle will hold its pose for minutes into hours if it deems it necessary. They do not react to touching, pushing, or probing while faking death. Once the perceived threat is long gone, the beetle uprights itself and walks on, foraging for food.

Blue Death-Feigning Beetles are also called Desert Ironclad Beetles. They are built to avoid desiccation in arid regions. They are a steely blue color, including legs. Rows of bumps on the dorsal (back) side run in parallel lines from head to rear. They feed on plant and animal debris, scouring the landscape for bits and pieces all day. Some people keep them as pets. One beetle kept in captivity lived over 15 years. Those in nature tend to be most active in spring and early autumn.

Picture of the Blue Death-Feigning Beetle
Picture of the Blue Death-Feigning Beetle

Blue Death-Feigning Beetle Information

Category: Beetle
Common Name: Blue Death-Feigning Beetle
Scientific Name: Asbolus verrucosus
Other Name(s): Desert Ironclad Beetle, Ghost Beetle

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Coleoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Tenebrionidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Asbolus
       Arrow graphic Species: verrucosus

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 18 mm to 21 mm (0.702 inches to 0.819 inches)
Identifying Colors: blue, black
Additional Descriptors: bumpy, dead

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Arizona; California; Colorado; Nevada; New Mexico; Texas; Utah; Wyoming; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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