Class : Insecta
Order : Coleoptera ; Linnaeus, 1758
Distribution : Worldwide
Size : 1 – 160 mm ( 1/25 – 61/4 In )
There are more species of beetles than any other insect on Earth, with about 350,000 having been described by science to date. It is thought that there may be ten to twenty times as many as this still undiscovered. They occupy almost every possible non marine ecological niche, and vary from being serious pests of agriculture, commerce and building ( these include grain weevils, woodworms and such like ). The environment is reliant to beetles to break down much of the dead animal and plant matter that continually accumulates. Beetles are holometabolous with a full egg – larva – pupa – adult lifecycle. The adults generally have hard exoskeletons and tough wing cases called ‘ elytra ‘. Most beetles are able to fly, although some are flightless. Some have bright warning colours where as others use cryptic coloration to hide from predators. It is not uncommon for the males to have elaborate structures on their heads that are analogous to antlers – for example the Rhinoceros and Stag Beetles.