Dentate Stink Beetles thrive in the arid conditions of the Sonoran desert in the American Southwest and northern Mexico.
Most Darkling Beetles like this one are completely black. Their smooth elytra (wing coverings) have a satiny sheen. Their heads are round and wide, and their antennae resemble a string of black pearls. There are a variety of species in the Eleodes genus, and many of them are found in Mexico. They are members of the Stink Beetle, or Pinacate Beetle Family, meaning they are capable of spraying pungent, malodorous chemicals from the tip of the abdomen in self-defense. To prepare for discharge, they lift the abdomen into the air, almost as if they are doing a headstand.
Adults are wingless and cannot fly. The elytra are fused at the midline to prevent desiccation in such arid environments. This species lives and thrives in a desert habitat, so water preservation seems worth the sacrifice in mobility. This insect is a scavenger of plant debris and can be found walking on the ground looking for bits of plant matter to eat. Its thin, wormy larvae are called false wireworms and can be found just below the surface, nibbling on decaying plant matter. Adults are active from spring through autumn. During the day, they can be found hiding under rocks, wood or in abandoned rodent holes. At dusk, they start scrounging the area for food.
Scientific Name: Eleodes dentipes
Other Name(s): Skunk Beetle, Pinacate Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 16mm to 28mm (0.62in to 1.09in)
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.