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Black Caterpillar Hunter (Calosoma sayi)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black Caterpillar Hunter

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The Black Caterpillar Hunter is a roaming beetle that feeds on caterpillars at night and rests under rocks and debris by day.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
More common in the southern U.S. states, the Black Caterpillar Beetle is a somewhat large beetle. It has ridges on its elytra (wing coverings) and small metallic, rust-colored spots that form rows down its back. It is a type of Ground Beetle and spends most of its time wandering the earth and trees for caterpillar prey and other edible insects. Large jaws help dispatch and devour the meal. Moth and butterfly caterpillars are the main diet of this beetle, and they have voracious appetites. This diet benefits the plant by removing leaf-eaters.

While constantly searching for food, they may run into their own predators. They can defend themselves in an attack by secreting a malodorous chemical. They are fast movers and can be difficult to follow. Females lay fertilized eggs in the soil. Grubs (larvae) overwinter underground, and adults are active from early spring through autumn. Lifespans vary from 2 to 3 years, which is long for a beetle. They are most active at night and will come to lights. Look for them in woodlands, coastlines, gardens, and prairies. ©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Patterned insect icon
Shiny insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Carabidae
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          Genus: Calosoma
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            Species: sayi

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Calosoma sayi
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 28mm (0.98" to 1.10")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red; orange
Descriptors: metallic; spots; lines; ruby; rust; gold; south

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 28mm (1.1in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 26.5mm
Hi: 28mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Black Caterpillar Hunter may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black Caterpillar Hunter. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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