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Darkling Beetle (Various spp.)

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

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A general and well-populated group, Darkling Beetles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and eat a myriad of things.

Updated: 09/23/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Darkling Beetles can be found under stones, inside hollowed logs, and roaming sandy dunes and deserts. Many are completely black, but some are auburn or brown. Some species eat fungi, others feed on living crops or decaying plant matter. Some are attracted to carrion, others dung. Many are overlooked and insignificant, but some are grain and produce pests.

The spectrum of behavior and life history among Darkling Beetles is vast. Larvae are yellow-tan worm-like grubs. The commercially available mealworm is the larva of one particular genus in the Darkling Beetle family. Many species have chemical defenses as adults, spraying or secreting noxious solutions from their bodies. Some beetles are long and slender. Others have tapered abdomen or are round, like lady beetles. While all have wings, species in arid regions do not fly because their wings are fused shut, allowing them to prevent moisture from evaporating. The diversity of this family makes them fascinating to study.

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


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Tenebrionidae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 20mm (0.11" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, brown, red
Descriptors: black, shiny, bumps, ridges

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 3mm (0.1in) and 20mm (0.8in)
Lo: 3mm
Md: 11.5mm
Hi: 20mm
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 Darkling 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 Darkling Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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