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Dentate Stink Beetle (Eleodes dentipes)

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

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Image Credit: Stacie S. taken near Sacramento, CA
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Dentate Stink Beetles thrive in the arid conditions of the Sonoran desert in the American Southwest and northern Mexico.

Updated: 09/23/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Fast insect icon
Smelly insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Tenebrionidae
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          Genus: Eleodes
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            Species: dentipes

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Eleodes dentipes
Other Name(s): Skunk Beetle, Pinacate Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 16mm to 28mm (0.62" to 1.10")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black
Descriptors: smell, odor, fluid, fast, headstand, butt

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 16mm (0.6in) and 28mm (1.1in)
Lo: 16mm
Md: 22mm
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 Dentate Stink 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 Dentate Stink Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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