Discover 6 Beetles That Bite

Largest beetles - Giraffe stag beetle
© Mark Brandon/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: September 7, 2023

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Scientists have formally identified over 350,000 different species of beetles in the world today. The vast majority of these insects are unable to harm people. Yet, some beetles can hurt people by biting them or by using chemical irritants. Take a look at several different beetles that bite people. Learn about how big they are, how they can bite people, and whether they can cause any serious harm with their bite!

What Are 6 Beetles That Bite Humans?

Stag Beetle on a branch

Stag beetles can deliver a bite to humans with their large mandibles.

©Czesznak Zsolt/Shutterstock.com

While hundreds of thousands of different beetle species exist, most of them are incapable of biting a person. For a beetle to bite a human, they need to have the correct physical structures. That cuts down on the number of beetles that can bite a person. Also, some of the beetles that “bite” humans are actually pinching them, like the stag beetle.

Keep in mind that beetles don’t typically attack humans and bite them. Instead, humans would need to provoke a beetle to bite them by handling or otherwise provoking them. Lastly, their bites are not life-threatening, despite what some films have depicted.

The devil’s coach horse has powerful mandibles that are used to prey on snails, slugs, moths, and more.

1. Asian Ladybug

asian lady beetle on a leaf

Ladybugs are also known as lady beetles and ladybird beetles, and they can bite people.

©iStock.com/DE1967

The Asian ladybug or lady beetle is known for looking much like convergent ladybugs and other members of their family. They both come from the Coccinellidae family, but the Asian ladybug’s scientific name is Harmonia axyridis.

These creatures look relatively harmless given their small size of about 0.25 inches long. However, they can deliver a noticeable bite to humans. Their presence can trigger allergies in some people when large numbers of them congregate. Furthermore, they can release a nasty-smelling fluid. These beetles that bite people may not look like much, but they can be incredibly annoying in large numbers.  

2. Devil’s Coach Horse

Devil's coach horse beetle, a kind of rove beetle. Superstitions hold that the devil takes the form of this beetle to eat sinners.

Devil’s coach horse beetle, a kind of rove beetle that can bite and exude a smelly liquid at predators.

©Joseph Calev/Shutterstock.com

Ocypus olens is a type of rove beetle. These insects measure from 1 to 1.25 inches long, and they’re all black. They’re interesting because of their habit of raising their tails like scorpions when threatened even though they have no stinger.

While they may not sting, these insects can bite. The beetle’s powerful mandibles are used to prey on snails, slugs, moths, and more. When handled by a human, they can deliver a bite and secrete a foul-smelling fluid from glands on their abdomens. These beetles try to live up to their name.

3. Giant Stag Beetle

Types of beetles - Stag beetle

The giant stab beetle can deliver a mild bite or pinch to humans.

©iStock.com/KarelGallas

The giant stag beetle is also called the elk stag beetle or the elephant stag beetle. Specifically, the creature is Lucanus elaphus. These beetles are very large insects that can grow about 2.5 inches long. Males of this species have enormous mandibles.

Technically, male giant stag beetles don’t bite so much as they pinch with their mandibles. Females can also deliver a “bite” even though they have smaller mandibles. The bite doesn’t cause lasting harm, and these insects are pretty easy to avoid.  

4. Antelope Beetle

Antelope deer beetle on the forest floor.

Antelope

beetles are also stag beetles that have the ability to bite.

©Bartsch Photography/Shutterstock.com

Dorcus parallelus is another member of the family Lucanidae. That makes this a type of stag beetle. Unlike Lucanus elaphus, they do not have incredibly long mandibles. Yet, they still have more than enough power to deliver a pinch or bite to a person.

These beetles are black, and they are almost rectangular. Their elytra are textured but their pronotum is smooth. Their mandibles are large, noticeable, and have some protrusions. Therefore, a human will feel a bite from them. However, the beetles certainly do not go around picking fights with people.

5. Long-Horned Beetles         

Asian long-horned beetle

Not all long-horned beetles bite, but some of them do.

©High Mountain/Shutterstock.com

Long-horned beetles belong to the family Cerambycidae. Scientists have identified over 35,000 species in this family, and they are known for their very long antennae. Males in some of these species have large mandibles capable of delivering a somewhat painful bite.

The long-horned beetles can grow quite large. They range in size from 1 to 2.75 inches long, making them one of the largest beetles that can bite people. Still, they do not look to bite people or cause harm. They’ll only bite in response to adverse conditions, like when humans pick them up off the ground.

6. Scarites Ground Beetles

Scarites Ground Beetle

They’re a glossy black, dark brown color, with very small pincers on their front that overlap when closed, rather than snapping directly together.

©Dmitry Fch/Shutterstock.com

Many types of ground beetles exist, and not all of them bite. However, members of the Scarites can deliver a bite with their long mandibles. These beetles grow about 0.5 to 1.2 inches long. Members of this genus are all black.

Their bodies have a unique shape with a large abdomen, a small “waist” and a large pronotum. It looks as though someone pinched these beetles around the midsection. Still, it’s a good idea to leave them where they’re found instead of picking them up. They’re found throughout North America, and their bite can cause some mild pain.

Can Beetles Hurt Humans in Other Ways?

Animals That Spit Acid

The Bombardier Beetle (

Brachinus alternans

) is very aptly named – these boisterous bugs can create a small explosion to ward off predators.

©johannviloria/Shutterstock.com

Yes, several other types of beetles capable of inflicting harm on humans exist. For example, Onychocerus albitarsis, sometimes called the scorpion beetle, can actually deliver a venomous sting to a human being. This is the only beetle capable of delivering a venomous sting. At least, it’s the only one that has been discovered. These insects live in the forested regions of Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia.

They’re not the only beetles with a unique way of hurting people, though. Bombardier beetles can spray chemicals that can burn or irritate humans. They are a great example of why people should not examine any unknown beetles too closely.

Lastly, blister beetles can secrete a chemical that irritates and forms blisters on human skin. While they can’t shoot the irritant at humans like the bombardier beetle, it’s still an unpleasant experience.

Many beetles that bite people exist in the world today. However, they’re far outnumbered by harmless and even helpful beetles. After all, one in four animal species on the planet are beetles, and news of dire interactions with beetles is not exactly making headlines around the world. The best advice regarding any wild animal, including beetles, is that if a person is unsure if the creature can cause them harm, leave it alone.

Summary of 6 Beetles That Bite

RankBiting Beetle
1Asian Ladybug
2Devil’s Coach Horse
3Giant Stag Beetle
4Antelope Beetle
5Long-Horned Beetles
6Scarites Ground Beetles
Summary Table of 6 Beetles That Bite


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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