Darkling Beetle (Eleodes spp.)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Darkling Beetle.
Updated: 2/27/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 the 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 learned to counter such chemical attacks by holding the beetle's butt down to the ground while biting its head off.
Darkling Beetles are a satiny black color. Their abdomens are smooth, lacking ridges and dimples seen in other black beetles. The wings of this genus are fused shut to retain moisture so they are not able to fly. 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 surface, and comes out at night to look for food in cooler air. Its diet consists of fungi, animal detritus, and plant matter.