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Devil's Coach Horse (Ocypus olens)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Devil's Coach Horse

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Image Credit: LAHR from Wenatchee, WA
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The Devil's Coach Horse earned its name partly for its wicked bite and partly for its environmental hardiness.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A seemingly simple, black body hides the calculating nature of of the Devil's Coach Horse. The long abdominal segments are slender and flexible. Its elytra (wing coverings) are dull with a matte finish. Strong jaws make short work of killing soft-bodied insects. This member of the Rove Beetle family can inflict a painful bite on an unsuspecting human thanks to these massive jaws.

The Devil's Coach Horse takes on an interesting posture when disturbed or threatened. It gives potential predators, as well as humans, fair warning. The bendable abdomen rises and curls forward, like a scorpion's. Instead of a venomous stinger, the Devil's Coach Horse opens an internal gland that shoots out a yellowish foul-smelling fluid. This chemical deterrent is an effective way to divert attention from itself.

Devil's Coach Horses are not native to the United States and originated from Europe. Despite being exotic, they have comfortably established themselves in the Western and Southwestern regions of the United States. They normally prey on snails and slugs, and can be found in low altitudes and moist areas such as in parks and gardens where regular watering occurs.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect biting icon
Helpful insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Staphylinidae
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          Genus: Ocypus
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            Species: olens
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Ocypus olens
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 17mm to 33mm (0.66" to 1.29")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black
Descriptors: pointy; biting; helpful

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 17mm (0.7in) and 33mm (1.3in)
Lo: 17mm
Md: 25mm
Hi: 33mm
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 Devil's Coach Horse 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 Devil's Coach Horse. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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