Darkling Beetle (Eleodes spp.)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the Darkling Beetle, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 8/3/2017; 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 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: