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carabes, ground beetles

Carabidae

What do they look like?

Ground Beetles are rather diverse in shape. Most adults are glossy and black, but some are iridescent, some are green, some are yellow or orange. Their bodies are usually flattened with grooves or rows of punctures running down the wing covers. They are usually a bit longer than wide, have long legs (for a beetle) and run fast. Larvae have large heads and are somewhat hairy.

Where do they live?

This is a very large family of beetles, with over 26,000 species known from around the world, and many thousands probably not yet known. In Michigan there are as many as 450 species of Ground Beetles.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Ground beetles are found in just about any habitat that has other small animals for them to eat. They are most diverse and common in forests, but can be found on high mountains, in deserts, even on the seashore.

How do they grow?

See page on all Beetles.

How long do they live?

Most species in this family mature in one year, and can live for 2-3.

How do they behave?

These beetles are only active at night. They emerge from their hiding places under rocks and logs and search for prey, sometimes climbing up into vegetation. Larvae do not come out on the surface but stay in dead leaves and the surface soil. They are solitary animals, only coming together to mate.

How do they communicate with each other?

Mostly by taste and smell, though they have large eyes, and no doubt do a lot of touching of things.

What do they eat?

Ground beetle larvae and adults are predators, eating other small animals. Some speciailze on a particular group (slugs for example, or caterpillars) others will eat anything they can find.

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
    • eats non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Ground beetles have their tough beetle shell for protection. They run fast, and only hunt at night. Many can give off bad-tasting chemicals. One group, bombardier beetles, can shoot out boiling hot toxic chemicals from glands on their abdomen!

Do they cause problems?

A few species in this group attack seeds of corn as well as animal prey, but this is usually a minor factor.

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • crop pest

How do they interact with us?

This group of beetles is very important in controlling pests in the soil, especially the larvae of other insects.

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • controls pest population

Contributors

George Hammond (author), Animal Diversity Web.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chaparral

mid-altitude coastal areas with mild, rainy winters and long, dry summers. Dominant plant types are dense, evergreen shrubs.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

metamorphosis

A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

nomadic

generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Climbing plants are also abundant. There is plenty of moisture and rain, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

taiga

this biome is characterized by large expanses of coniferous forest, there is an extended cold season and heavy snowfall.

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tundra

A terrestrial biome found in very cold places -- either close to polar regions or high on mountains. Part of the soil stays frozen all year. Few kinds of plants grow here, and these are low mats or shrubs not trees. The growing season is short.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Hammond, G. . "Carabidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 18, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Carabidae/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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