Beetles make up a quarter of all species that exist on Earth, with more than 350,000 known types. They belong to the order Coleoptera, which in turn is divided into four suborders. The sub-order Adephaga includes earth, tiger, reed, and predator beetles, while the Polyphaga suborder includes carrion beetles, water pennies, fireflies, and the famous ladybugs.
Beetles are known to have a body covered by a hard shell, but sometimes this shell is actually soft. They may have hairy or smooth bodies and are usually dark brown or black, although there are some blues, reds and greens. Adult beetles can measure up to 8 inches (20 cm) long.
The main components of the body of a beetle are the antennae, mouthparts, wings and legs. The different species have different types of antennas, similar to threads, combs, feathers, serrated saw and toothpicks. Some antennas are segmented and others are bent. The jaws of the beetles are perfect for biting and chewing, they are usually very large and some species even use them as defense. The beetles have two sets of wings, one pair in the front and one in the back. The wings located at the back are soft and serve to fly. They also present three pairs of legs, which they use to run, grab, dig and swim.
The life cycle of a beetle is very complex and includes the following stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. They also undergo a complete metamorphosis. Adults of some species care for their larvae. Both male and female cooperate in the nest construction process. Most beetles usually complete their life cycle and become adults in two years. However, there are some that take up to 30 years to complete their cycle.
Beetles are scavengers and hunters. They consume plants, dead animals, fungi and other small insects. Some are parasites, meaning they live at the expense of the blood of other mammals or insects.