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Click Beetle (Melanotus spp.)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Click Beetle, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Click Beetle  
Picture of Click-Beetle
Picture of Click-Beetle Picture of Click-BeetlePicture of Click-Beetle

Click Beetles come in a variety of colors and patterns, but they are all slow walkers and quick to click and flip.

Click Beetles are slender, elongated beetles that do not harm people. Many are black, but species may also be brown, reddish brown and shades inbetween. They are famous for the noise they make when they need to make a hasty escape from a predator. A stiff spine on the anterior (belly) side of the beetle snaps with great force, propelling the beetle away from danger. This snap creates an audible click. The force is even strong enough to flip a beetle stuck on its back, back to its feet. An upside-down beetle is a helpless one so rapidly returning to an upright position can save its life.

Larvae of this genus of Click Beetles are called wireworms. They are skinny and feed on the roots and tubers of crops such as corn, potatoes and wheat. They are considered a pest as they move from plant to plant underground and may do so for years before pupating into adults.

Picture of the Click Beetle
Picture of the Click Beetle

Click Beetle Information

Category: Beetle
Common Name: Click Beetle
Scientific Name: Melanotus spp.
Other Name(s): Skipjack Beetle, Jacknife Beetle

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Coleoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Elateridae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Melanotus
       Arrow graphic Species: spp.

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 10 mm to 18 mm (0.39 inches to 0.702 inches)
Identifying Colors: brown, black
Additional Descriptors: long, narrow, slow, flying

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; 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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