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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



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.


an animal that mainly eats meat


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


active at dawn and dusk

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.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

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


union of egg and spermatozoan


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


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


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.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


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.


active during the night

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.


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

World Map


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


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


remains in the same area


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


lives alone


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


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).


Living on the ground.


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

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Elateridae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 21, 2014 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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