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Beetles belong to the Order Coleoptera, meaning "sheath-winged", a reference to their hardened forewings.  They range in size from 0.25 mm to over 17 cm, and occur in almost every habitat.

Beetles are the largest group of insects, with approximately 400,000 species described across the world. In fact, 1 in 4 of all known animal species is a beetle which gave rise to the quote, ascribed to the British geneticist J. B. S. Haldane, that the Creator has, or had, "an inordinate fondness for beetles".  There are about 4,000 species from the British Isles of which about two thirds, or between 2,500 and 3,000, occur in Scotland. However, most of Scotland remains poorly surveyed and our knowledge of the beetle fauna as a whole is patchy and incomplete.

Beetles fulfil a range of roles in a healthy ecosystem.  Many beetles are important pollinators, while dung beetles (especially (scarabs) remove vast quantities of dung from the environment. Carabid beetles help reduce the number of plant-eating caterpillars and slugs. The simplification of our arable ecosystems has reduced the number of such predators in our fields and strips of grass may be deliberately left in fields as beetle banks. There are some beetles, however, which can be damaging, such as the heather beetle which strips the vegetation or the invasive harlequin ladybird which competes with our native species.

In Scotland, some species are of special conservation concern, such as the ten-spotted pot beetle  PDF document , the six-spotted pot beetle  PDF document , the water beetle Hydroporus rufifrons  PDF document  and the reed beetle Donacia aquatica  PDF document .

Last updated on Tuesday 27th August 2013 at 10:11 AM. Click here to comment on this page