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Beetles are the group of insects with the largest number of known species. They are placed in the order Coleoptera, which contains more described species than in any other order in the animal kingdom, constituting about 25% of all known life-forms. 40% of all described insect species are beetles (about 350,000 species), and new species are frequently discovered. Estimates put the total number of species, described and undescribed, at between 5 and 8 million.

Beetles interact with their ecosystems in several ways. They often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are prey of various animals including birds and mammals. Certain species are agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the boll weevil Anthonomus grandis, the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, and the mungbean or cowpea beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, while other species of beetles are important controls of agricultural pests. For example, beetles in the family Coccinellidae ("ladybirds" or "ladybugs") consume aphids, scale insects, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects that damage crops.

BEETLES are insects which usually have a hard pair of wing cases to protect its wings. The ladybird is one type of beetle and the glow worm another. Beetles are predators, scavengers, suckers, recyclers, and even parasites. Beetles can be identified by the line straight line down their backs where their hard wing covers meet. These protect translucent flying wings. Beetles have complete metamorphosis in which the larva (grubs) are unlike the adults and must pupate to mature




Last updated December 2010