Beetles are an incredibly species-rich group of animals, with about 400,000 species described worldwide. That’s about 25% of all known life forms! In Britain and Ireland we have over 4000 species in over 100 families, ranging from the tiny featherwing beetles which can be as small as 0.3 mm, to the huge male Stag Beetle at up to 70 mm in body length.
Beetles are found everywhere except in the sea, from deep in coal mines, to the summit of the highest mountains, in deserts and swimming deep in lakes. Beetles can be found feeding on plants, wood, fungi, carrion, dung and decaying vegetation. Other beetles are predacious on small invertebrate animals, including other beetles. Beetles can be found on low plants and in the canopy of trees, but many species are only found at ground level, in the soil or even deep underground. Some are restricted to the nests of birds and mammals. There are nocturnal as well as daytime beetles. Some are long-lived while others may only live as adults for a few days. Everywhere you look, you can find beetles, often in great abundance, but to find a particular species of beetle you need to know where to look and when.
Follow the links to find out more about some of the main groups of beetles:
For information on families of beetles not listed here, refer to the beetle families page