Like other beetles, ground beetles have shell-like wing covers (elytra) that meet in a straight line over their abdomen. Ground beetles are usually black or brown, often shiny, and often have lengthwise grooves on the elytra. Some are quite colorful. The jaws are well-developed. The legs are long and slender, and most ground beetles are fast runners. Many are nocturnal and hide in dark places during the day. If uncovered, they run quickly to find new shelter. Some species emit or spray foul or irritating chemicals in defense.
Tiger beetles are a subfamily of ground beetles that are more often brightly colored and active during the daytime.
The larvae are segmented; black, brown, tan, or pale; and worm- or grublike; with six legs; and have strong pincers at the mouth. Sometimes there’s a hump behind the head. If you are familiar with mealworms, they are rather similar to those.
Habitat and Conservation
Ground beetles are a great help to agriculture, since many of them feed on cutworms and other caterpillars and grubs that are injurious to crops. By feeding on larvae, they kill insects before they can reproduce.
People admire the iridescent colors of tiger beetles.