Darkling Beetle

Eleodes sp.

Photo  by Michael Plagens

Image taken in Phoenix, Arizona on Sept 22, 2006. This species is frequent near compost where the larvae tunnel and are similar to meal worms.

There are many kinds of darkling beetles found in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northwestern Mexico. Many are jet-black and wander conspicuously across the desert terrain. They can do this because most predators like birds, mice, skunks and ringtails have learned to leave them alone. Pick one up and it will generously coat your hand with an acrid liquid expelled from its abdomen. Some species, known locally as Pinacate Beetles, will hold their abdomen up when threatened, advertising the obnoxious odor that will be delivered if molested.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-07