November 2011: You can find beetles everywhere on the planet – from the equator to the polar regions, from deserts to mountains, from beaches to dark caves. Many beetle species stay hidden from view – either underground or inside plants and trees or under rocks.
Most are active only during summer and usually at night. Beetles have a flexible but hard exoskeleton that is divided into plates, a three-part body, three pairs of legs and two hairy antennae or feelers.
Most of them have two compound eyes and have sharp vision, a must if they need to fly and hunt. However, other species that live in the dark often have simple eyes or no eyes at all. Their mouthparts consist of curved jaws that act like pincers. Some such as ladybugs use these sharp jaws to pierce their prey, and inject a liquid to dissolve the victim’s insides and then suck in the liquid food. Some beetles have bristles on their jaws that help scrape algae off plants. Beetles begin their lives as eggs, then hatch into larva (these resemble caterpillars and have big appetites) after which they moult several times and the new covering hardens into a pupa case where it changes into its adult form. When ready, the adult beetle emerges out of the case. Beetles feed on a variety of things – from insects to leaves, stems and flowers. They themselves are also food for birds, frogs, toads, lizards, fish and other beetles and insects.
by Sanctuary Asia, First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub, November 2011.