What Do Beetles Look Like?

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There are more than 300,000 species of beetles, varying in shapes, sizes, colors and forms. Learn about the variety in sizes of beetles, such as the 125-millimeter-long beetles in the tropics, with information from an entomologist in this free video on insects and bugs.

Part of the Video Series: Insects & Bugs
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Video Transcript

I'm Mike Quinn. I've been an entomologist for 20 years, and we're here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in Austin, Texas, talking about, what do beetles look like? Well, there's over 300,000 different species of beetles, and so they take on a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and forms. They can be as small as one millimeter long, and in the US, the largest ones can reach up to 75 millimeters, and in the tropics, they can get up to 125 millimeters, so they have a wide variety of sizes and shapes, as I mentioned. A cucumber beetle, as we're seeing, is kind of a typical size beetle, and about a centimeter long. Many of them feed on flowers, many of them feed on wood products, many of them feed in soil, on plant roots, so they have a wide variety of diets and sizes, and shapes, and the size range alone, gives you an idea of the variety, but what all beetles have basically, is hardened wing coat covers. We call them elytra, and those wing covers raise up when they fly, and then their true wings are unfurled below there, and so they can fly, but that protection of those wings, gives them, is one of the things that accounts for their success, along with their chewing mouth parts, and so they can feed on a wide variety of substances, out in the environment, and so those are some of the ways to recognize a beetle, by its appearance.


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