Insect Identification logo

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 ¬©

  Darkling Beetle  
Picture of Darkling-Beetle
Picture of Darkling-Beetle Picture of Darkling-Beetle

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:

Picture of the Darkling Beetle
Picture of the Darkling Beetle

Darkling Beetle Information

Category: Beetle
Common Name: Darkling Beetle
Scientific Name: Eleodes spp.
Other Name(s): Skunk Beetle, Head Stander 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: Eleodes
       Arrow graphic Species: spp.

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 25 mm to 35 mm (0.975 inches to 1.365 inches)
Identifying Colors: black
Additional Descriptors: slow, tilted, head-down, stink, shiny, smell, discharge

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina;Tennessee; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Ontario; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec

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.

Images Gallery


BugFinder: What is it?