Insects/Beetles: On Earth there are about 1,000,000 known species of animals. Three quarters of those species are insects, and two fifths of insects, or approximately 300,000 species, are of the order Coleoptera; Beetles. In North America alone, there are 30,000 species of beetle, quite an overwhelming number when trying to create an electronic field guide.
Habitat/Behavior: Beetles are relatively tough to come by (especially nearing the cold days of fall and winter). Beetles are very versitile creatures, living in a wide variety of habitats, from arctic tundra, to lakes, to rainforests, to the highest of mountains to the driest of deserts. Beetles mainly feed on plants. Their main impact is that they are serious pests to crops. In order to capture the beetles, I used a grate to sift through leaf litter on or around Brandeis University in Waltham, Ma. Several beetles were found in water at Cold Spring Pond in Newton, Ma and one was found at Rock Meadow in Belmont, Ma.
Anatomy: Beetles can be identified by their usually strong exoskeleton. Like all other insects, beetles have three distinct body segments, the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. The head contains the eyes, mouth parts and antennae. Beetles have chewing mouth parts located on the lower front of the head. The antennae are used primarily for smell or taste purposes. Antennae are a key characterisitic in helping determine beetle families. On this website is a function to search for beetles depending upon their antennae type.
The thorax consists of three parts; the prothorax, the mesothorax, and the metathorax. Each section bears a pair of legs. Attached to the Mesothorax are the front wings, known as the elytra. The wings can be hairly, striated, punctured, smooth, glossy, metalic, etc. The elytra provide the main protection for the beetle in terms of strengh and covering the abdomen which contains 9 segments in most beetles. The metathorax contains the smaller pair of flying wings that are often concealed and in some cases absent from certain species
The legs of beetles consist of 5 parts; the coxa, the trochanter, the femur, the tibia, and the tarsus. Each tarsus contains 1-5 segments, the end segment containing a claw. Some species are identifiable based upon their tarsal formula (how many segments each tarsus has).