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click beetles


What do they look like?

Adult Click Beetles are long skinny beetles with grooves running down their wing covers. Most adult Click Beetles are 12-30 mm long, a few species get up to 45 mm. The front of their heads and the back end of their wing covers are rounded. Unlike most beetles, the connection between the first and second section of the thorax is flexible, they can move their heads and first pair of legs separately from the rest of the body. This lets them do the trick that they are named for. They can snap the two sections, making a loud click sound, and flipping themselves over if they are lying on their backs.

Click Beetle larvae are long and shiny, with tough segmented bodies. They are sometimes called wireworms. Unlike mealworms (which are larvae of another family of beetles) click beetle mouth parts point straight forward.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • female larger
  • Range length
    12.0 to 40.0 mm
    0.47 to 1.57 in

Where do they live?

Species of Click Beetles are found all around the world. There are over 900 species known from North America, and probably more that haven't been discovered yet.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Adult Click Beetles are found on the ground, on plants, in decaying wood, or hiding under bark. Most Click Beetle larvae live in the soil, but some are found under bark, in decaying wood, and in moss. These kinds of beetles are found anywhere there is vegetation and soil, but are rare in deserts or flooded areas.

How do they grow?

Like all beetles, Click Beetles have complete metamorphosis. Adult females lay eggs. The young that hatch from the eggs are larvae that are long with shiny segments and no wings. Many species spend a year or more in the larval stage. Larvae transform into pupae, which look sort of like the adults but are a resting stage. Many beetle spend the winter as pupae, but most Click Beetles spend the winter as larvae or adults. Each pupa transforms into an adult after a few days or weeks.

How long do they live?

Some species of Click Beetle can complete two generations in one year, but most take one or more years to become adults. A few species that live in especially cold climates talk 3 or 4 years.

How do they behave?

In cool climates adult Click Beetles are active in the daytime, but when the weather is warmer they move more at night. Some of these beetles are atttracted to lights at night. Most species are solitary, but some are often found in groups. We don't know what they are doing together.

How do they communicate with each other?

Most Click Beetles communicate by scent and touch, but some tropical species glow. They have special structures that make light, even brighter than the lightning beetles we see in the U.S.

What do they eat?

Adult click beetles feed on nectar, pollen, flowers, and sometimes soft-bodied insects like aphids. Click beetle larvae are mostly predators on small soil animals, but some eat roots and seeds.

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Adult click beetles use their click to startle predators. They have tough bodies, and many species can fly. Many species hide during the day and are active only at night. Click beetle larvae are also tough, and spend their lives underground.

Do they cause problems?

The larvae of some Click Beetles eat roots and seeds, and are significant pests of potatos, corn and other crops.

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

How do they interact with us?

Some Click Beetle larvae are predators on root aphids and other pest insects. One species of glowing Click Beetles is being used for research into the evolution of genes.

Are they endangered?

No Click Beetle species are considered endangered.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Elateridae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 17, 2024 at

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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