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Blue Death-feigning Beetle (Asbolus verrucosus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Blue Death-feigning Beetle

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The Blue Death-feigning Beetle is excellent at playing opossum for as long as it takes to convince predators to move along.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Blue Death-feigning Beetles are native to the Mojave and Sonoran Desert regions in the Southwest U.S., but their range extends to surrounding states and Mexico. Unlike other Darkling Beetles, they are unable to secrete a noxious chemical to deter would-be predators. Instead, they have a remarkable ability to appear dead, often tricking humans as well as natural predators. A frightened beetle will quickly roll onto its back and bend all of its legs in order to appear dried out and dead to an approaching threat. The hope is that the predator will pass by, preferring fresh and juicy prey. The beetle will hold its pose for minutes into hours if it deems it necessary. They do not react to touching, pushing, or probing while faking death. Once the perceived threat is long gone, the beetle uprights itself and walks on, foraging for food.

Blue Death-feigning Beetles are also called Desert Ironclad Beetles. They are built to avoid desiccation in arid regions. They are a steely blue color, including legs. Rows of bumps on the dorsal (back) side run in parallel lines from head to rear. They feed on plant and animal debris, scouring the landscape for bits and pieces all day. Some people keep them as pets. One beetle kept in captivity lived over 15 years. Those in nature tend to be most active in spring and early autumn.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Tenebrionidae
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          Genus: Asbolus
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            Species: verrucosus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Asbolus verrucosus
Other Name(s): Desert Ironclad Beetle, Ghost Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 21mm (0.70" to 0.82")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: blue; black
Descriptors: bumpy; dead; light blue; powdery; long legs

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 18mm (0.7in) and 21mm (0.8in)
Lo: 18mm
Md: 19.5mm
Hi: 21mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
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State of Delware graphic
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State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
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State of South Carolina graphic
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State of Tennessee graphic
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State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
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State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
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 Blue Death-feigning Beetle 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 Blue Death-feigning Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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