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Click Beetle (Melanotus spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Click Beetle

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Click Beetles come in a variety of colors and patterns, but they are all slow walkers and quick to click and flip.

Updated: 04/18/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Click Beetles are slender, elongated beetles that do not harm people. Many are black, but species may also be brown, reddish brown and shades between. They are famous for the noise they make when they need to make a hasty escape from a predator. A stiff spine on the anterior (belly) side of the beetle snaps with great force, propelling the beetle away from danger. This snap creates an audible click. The force is even strong enough to flip a beetle stuck on its back, back to its feet. An upside-down beetle is a helpless one so rapidly returning to an upright position can save its life.

Larvae of this genus of Click Beetles are called wireworms. They are skinny and feed on the roots and tubers of crops such as corn, potatoes and wheat. They are considered a pest as they move from plant to plant underground and may do so for years before pupating into adults.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Elateridae
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          Genus: Melanotus
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Melanotus spp.
Other Name(s): Skipjack Beetle, Jacknife Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 18mm (0.39" to 0.70")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black
Descriptors: long; narrow; slow; flying; noise

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 18mm (0.7in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 14mm
Hi: 18mm
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 Click 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 Click Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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