About 1 in every 3 insects in existence is a beetle. There are approximately 400,000 known species globally, with many more waiting to be discovered and identified. Their huge diversity in form, behaviour and ecology make them a fascinating group to study and observe but also can make them seem daunting to beginners.
What makes a Beetle a Beetle?
A beetle (Coleoptera) is a type of insect, as it possesses three main body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), compound eyes, three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae. They can be distinguished from other insects by a couple of features. The main difference is that a beetle will have two pairs of wings, with the outer forewings adapted into hard wing cases (elytra). These are what you see on the abdomen of the beetle and protect the delicate hindwings underneath that are used for flight.
You can learn more about the different beetle species in the UK on one of our courses. We cover various topics such as identification, anatomy, ecology and biology.
The Ground Beetles (Carabidae) consist of around 350 different species in the UK. They are mostly terrestrial predatory beetles, foraging on the ground for other small invertebrates.
You can see them scurrying quickly over the ground or sheltering under stones, logs and organic litter. Ecologists often use them as an indicator species, as their presence suggests that the habitat is healthy and diverse. One method of collecting ground beetles for identification is through setting up Pitfall Traps.
Our plentiful publications can help guide you through beetle identification. Plus, our vast array of beetle courses can teach you more about collection techniques, terminology, ecology and biology, and using identification resources.
There are 47 different ladybird (Coccinellidae) species in the UK, and they are one of our much loved and distinctive beetle species. Many of them, and the most common, are black and red and spotty. However, some species are orange, yellow or white, and the number of spots can range from 2 right up to 25!
Some ladybirds are particularly loved by gardeners as they eat plant hungry insects such as aphids and help to control their numbers. They can often be spotted on plants in gardens and urban areas in spring and summer, and in winter, they can be found in dense clusters hibernating in sheltered crevices.
FSC Ladybirds Guide – This fold-out guide covers the adults of 26 species in Britain and Ireland. To aid identification it covers the colour pattern, habitat, distribution, status and overwintering site for each species. There are also concise descriptions of the anatomy, life-cycle and diet of ladybirds.
Ladybirds Atlas – The BRC Ladybirds atlas describes the distribution of ladybirds in Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, using data collected through the Biological Records Centre Coccinellidae Recording Scheme (including the UK Ladybird Survey) since 1964.
FSC Ladybird Larvae Guide – This features the larvae and pupae of 26 species in Britain and Ireland. Ladybird larvae are easy to find in gardens and local green spaces, but they look very different to adult ladybirds. Beautiful colour paintings by Chris Shields show the key colours and patterns to look out for.
Find out about the lifestyle and varied forms of one of the UK’s most numerous and varied groups of invertebrates. Acquire knowledge of beetle biology, ecology, behaviour and basic collection methods to embark on their beetle journey.
Each Eco-Skills course is part of a learning framework. You can see the course level descriptions here
FSC run regular Beetle Identification Courses throughout the year. To learn more about Beetle Identification, click the button below.
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More Beetle Identification Resources:
Beetles AIDGAP is an identification guide to the families of beetles (Coleoptera and Strepsiptera) in Britain. Beetles are a large and complex group of insects. Comprehensive identification guides can seem daunting. AIDGAP Beetles offers a more gentle way in.