Blue Death Feigning Beetle

Asbolus verrucosus

Last updated: October 8, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit GypsyPictureShow/Shutterstock.com

When threatened, blue death feigning beetles will pretend like they’re dead.

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Coleoptera
Family
Tenebrionidae
Genus
Asbolus
Scientific Name
Asbolus verrucosus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Conservation Status

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Locations

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Locations

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Facts

Name Of Young
larvae
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
When threatened, blue death feigning beetles will pretend like they’re dead.
Most Distinctive Feature
The beetle is entirely blue in color
Distinctive Feature
Characteristic bumps on the beetle's elytra.
Other Name(s)
Desert ironclad beetle
Habitat
Deserts and semi-arid habitats
Predators
Spiders
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Crepuscular
Favorite Food
vegetables, fruits, lichen, shrimp, dead insects,
Type
Darkling beetle
Common Name
Blue death feigning beetle
Special Features
Highly adapted to hot environments
Origin
North America
Location
United States, Mexico, Canada

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Blue
Skin Type
Exoskeleton
Lifespan
8 years (96 months)
Length
18mm – 21 mm (0.71in – 0.83 in)
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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When threatened, blue death feigning beetles will pretend like they’re dead.

Summary

Blue death feigning beetles are a species of darkling beetles native to the United States Southwest. They are known for their remarkable ability to play dead when they feel threatened by predators, which is why they’re called death-feigning beetles. These beetles are also known to be highly resistant to heat. Their entire body, including their legs, is a steely blue color. Death feigning beetles are omnivorous, feeding on both plant and animal matter. Due to their unique properties, these beetles are common as pets these days. 

Blue Death Feigning Beetles Species, Types, and Scientific Name

Asbolus verrucosus is commonly known as blue death feigning beetle or desert ironclad beetle. This is a species of beetle native to the United States Southwest. It is most notably found in the Sonoran desert, but its range extends to other parts of North America, especially Mexico. 

Blue death feigning beetles belong to the family Tenebrionidae. This is a large family of cosmopolitan beetles, commonly called darkling beetles. There are more than 20,000 species of beetles in this family. Many of the species of darkling beetles are adapted to live in arid environments, and that includes Asbolus verrucosus as well. In fact, Asbolus verrucosus beetles are known for their ability to survive in extremely hot environments. 

Their common name (blue death feigning beetle) references their steely blue color. Their entire body, including their appendages, is completely blue. Another common name for this insect is desert ironclad beetle which refers to their ability to survive in hot desert environments. Their specific name, “verrucosus,” means ‘warty,’ and is a reference to the characteristic bumps on their elytra. 

Appearance: How To Identify Blue Death Feigning Beetles

Blue death feigning beetle
The blue death feigning beetle is native to the deserts of the Southwestern United States.

Harry Beugelink/Shutterstock.com

The blue death feigning beetles are a powdery blue color. Their color is a result of a coating of wax on their exoskeleton. The wax coating is an adaptation that helps to protect the insect against moisture loss. In high-humidity environments, their blue color will turn a darker shade. 

Desert ironclad beetles are small bugs measuring about 18-21mm (0.71–0.83 in) from head to abdomen. They are characterized by the presence of “warty bumps” on their elytra. Males are typically smaller than females. They also have bristly red hairs on their antenna. 

Most darkling beetles can release defensive toxic fluids to ward off predators. But Asbolus verrucosus lacks such defenses. The defense strategy of this bug is to play dead when threatened. Since they don’t have wings to fly away from predators, they simply roll over and tick their legs up like they are dead. 

Many predators that feed on insects, such as spiders, prefer only live prey and would most likely leave the death feigning bug alone. Another impressive adaptation of this insect is its high thermal tolerance. Their warty, fused elytra helps to protect the insect against dedication. 

Habitat: Where to find Blue Death Feigning Beetles

The blue death feigning beetle is native to the deserts of the Southwestern United States. It is most commonly found in the Sonoran desert. However, the range of this insect extends into surrounding states as well as Mexico and Canada

This beetle is also known as the desert ironclad beetle because of its ability to survive in harsh desert environments. Their exoskeleton has an ashy-blue wax layer, an adaptation to survive heat and water loss in their arid surroundings. They can increase the amount of wax secreted based on the humidity in their environment. When the humidity is low, the beetle turns a lighter shade of blue due to more wax secretion. They’re completely black when the humidity is high.  

Because they’re so easy to care for, many people keep this beetle as pets. They do well in captivity, as they have a varied diet and can survive under different humidity conditions.

Diet: What Do Blue Death Feigning Beetles Eat?

Like most darkling beetles, desert ironclad beetles are omnivorous with a very diverse diet. They feed on both plant and animal matter. In captivity, people have successfully kept them on dog and cat foods, vegetables, fruits, shrimps, lichen, and even dead insects. They are crepuscular, meaning their most active times of the day are at dawn and dusk. 

What Eats Blue Death Feigning Beetles? 

Spiders, birds, rodents, and lizards prey on insects like blue death feigning beetles. However, this beetle has developed an adaptation that helps it to escape being eaten by prey. It plays dead when threatened, turning on its back and keeping its body extremely rigid. The insect will remain like this for as long as it takes to evade predators. Unless caught by surprise, this adaptation helps them survive predators in their natural habitat. 

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork. He can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing on health, technology and animals. He is inquisitive and currently aspires to become a software engineer. He loves animals, especially horses and would love to have one someday.

Blue Death Feigning Beetle FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What can live with blue death feigning beetles?

People who keep blue death feigning beetles as pets can keep them successfully with other pet insects. Since they’re not aggressive and highly adaptable, they can live successfully alongside velvet ants, scorpions, and other beetles. In addition, the fact that they’re scavengers means they can adapt easily to food conditions in their environments.

 

Why are they called blue death feigning beetles?

The death feigning beetle’s name refers to the insect’s ability to feign death when threatened by a predator. This adaptation helps them to avoid getting eaten by predators. The “blue” in their name refers to the bluish tint of their body. The insect’s body, including its appendages, is covered in a blue wax which protects it from heat and dehydration.

 

How big do blue death feigning beetles get 

The blue death feigning beetle is a relatively small bug. They can grow to a length of about 18–21 mm (0.71–0.83 in) from head to abdomen.

 

How long do blue death feigning beetles live in captivity?

When kept as pets, blue death feigning beetles have been known to live for as long as8 years. They’re quite adaptable and can survive in a variety of environments.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. WIkipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbolus_verrucosus
  2. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Available here: https://cincinnatizoo.org/animals/blue-death-feigning-beetle/
  3. Insect Identification, Available here: https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.php?identification=Blue-Death-Feigning-Beetle

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