The Coleoptera order of insects is commonly called beetles. Beetles have two pairs of wings, the front pair, the “elytra”, being hardened and thickened into a sheath-like, or shell-like, protection for the rear pair, and for the rear part of the beetle’s body.


Top left to bottom right: female golden stag beetle (Lamprima aurata), rhinoceros beetle (Megasoma sp.), a species of Amblytelus, cowboy beetle (Chondropyga dorsalis), and a long nose weevil (Rhinotia hemistictus). Image from Wikimedia Commons. Author: Bugboy52.40

The Coleoptera include more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known types of animal life-forms. About 40% of all described insect species are beetles (about 400,000 species), and new species are discovered frequently. Some estimates put the total number of species, described and undescribed, at as high as 100 million, but a figure of one million is more widely accepted.

About 75% of beetle species are phytophagous in both the larval and adult stages, living in or on plants, wood, fungi, and a variety of stored products, including cereals, tobacco, and dried fruits. Because many of these plants are important for agriculture, forestry, and the household, beetles can be considered pests.

Some of these species cause significant damage, such as the boll weevil, which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. The boll weevil crossed the Rio Grande near Brownsville, Texas, to enter the United States from Mexico around 1892,[59] and had reached southeastern Alabama by 1915. By the mid-1920s, it had entered all cotton-growing regions in the US, traveling 40 to 160 miles (60–260 km) per year. It remains the most destructive cotton pest in North America. Mississippi State University has estimated, since the boll weevil entered the United States, it has cost cotton producers about $13 billion, and in recent times about $300 million per year.

Many other species also have done extensive damage to plant populations, such as the bark beetle and elm leaf beetle. The bark beetle and elm leaf beetle, among other species, have been known to nest in elm trees. Bark beetles in particular carry Dutch elm disease as they move from infected breeding sites to feed on healthy elm trees. The spread of Dutch elm disease by the beetle has led to the devastation of elm trees in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, notably in Europe and North America.

This information is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Read more about Beetles here.