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Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Local animals in this group:

carabes, ground beetles


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


George Hammond (author), Animal Diversity Web.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

BioKIDS home  |  Questions?  |  Animal Diversity Web

Hammond, G. . "Carabidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 20, 2024 at http://localhost:2015/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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