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Rainbow Darkling Beetle (Tarpela micans)

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

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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In certain light and at certain angles, this seemingly ordinary black beetle shows a coat of many colors.

Updated: 07/09/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Like most Darkling Beetles, this species is black. It is special in that it also has a multicolored iridescence all over its body. The effect is similar to how oil on the ground reflects light: subtle, but clearly visible. The colors overlaying the black beetle may be red, green, blue, or a mix of many hues, and they stretch from head to rear end. The head and pronotum are covered in tiny pits or depressions, giving them texture. The flat head hangs low as if vacuuming the ground. The smooth wing coverings (elytra) have evenly spaced channels or lines running down them.

Look for this beetle in wooded areas under decomposing logs and on tree trunks. It has wings, but it often seen walking on leaf litter and wood chip trails on the ground.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Shiny insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Tenebrionidae
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          Genus: Tarpela
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            Species: micans
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Tarpela micans
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 19mm (0.47" to 0.74")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red; blue; green
Descriptors: iridescent; rainbow; sheen; gleam; ridges; smooth lines; bumpy pronotum; flying; shiny

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 12mm (0.5in) and 19mm (0.7in)
Lo: 12mm
Md: 15.5mm
Hi: 19mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
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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 Rainbow 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 Rainbow Darkling Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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