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?
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.
1. Asian Ladybug
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
|2||Devil’s Coach Horse|
|3||Giant Stag Beetle|
|6||Scarites Ground Beetles|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mark Brandon/Shutterstock.com
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