Phylum Arthropoda > Subphylum Hexapoda > Class Insecta > Subclass Pterygota (winged insects) > Infraclass Neoptera (most winged insects) > Superorder Endopterygota > Order Coleoptera


From the Wikipedia Beetles page:

"Beetles make up the most species of insects. The order Coleoptera, means 'sheathed wing', and contains more described species in it than in any other order in the animal kingdom. Forty percent of all described insect species are beetles (about 350,000 species), and new species are frequently discovered. Estimates put the total number of species, described and undescribed, at between 5 and 8 million."

Glow-worm, Glowworm or Glow worm, Lampyris noctiluca

Taxonomy: Order Coleoptera > Suborder Polyphaga > Infraorder Elateriformia > Superfamily Elateroidea > Family Lampyridae (fireflies) > Genus Lampyris

Glow-worms are quite common around us. One place they can be found is towards the north end of Mockbeggar Lane (about 250 m from the junction with Cranbrook Road), where they're active in the verges. We have quite a few in the garden, which is where I found this specimen glowing on the lawn. She's a female, and she was glowing to attract a mate. Females are "larviform", that is, like a larva, whereas the male is beetle-like and capable of flight.

For more details and photos see an excellent article on this Kendall Bioresearch Services page, where there's a pic of a male and female together. Here's the Wikipedia Lampyridae (fireflies) page.

You can also report Glow-worms in your area to The UK Glow worm Survey. There are more around than you might think, and they're easily spotted, usually on the ground, after dusk in June and July. This female was photographed on 5th August (2007).

Common Cockchafer, Maybug or May bug Melolontha melolontha

Taxonomy: Order Coleoptera > Superfamily Scarabaeoidea > Family Scarabaeidae (scarabs or scarab beetles) > Genus Melolontha

This Maybug was attracted by the light from a kitchen window in late April 2007, and I popped it in a large jar with moist grass to photograph later. Initially shy, it was soon walking slowly around my fingers, allowing some quite good one-handed shots. This is the only one we've seen. As it has seven "leaves" in its antennae it's a male -- the female has six.

Cockchafers have quite a strange life-cycle. The adult seen here has only a few weeks to live, and almost its sole function (apart from feeding on oak leaves and pine needles) is to find a female and fertilise her. She lays her eggs in the ground and the chafer grubs hatch some weeks later. These then live in the ground eating plant roots for 3-4 years, pupating in their last autumn. The resulting cockchafer stays underground during the winter, emerging in the spring to find a mate during the 5-7 weeks it has left to live.

More about these creatures, including their eradication as a pest, on the Wikipedia cockchafer page.

Ladybirds, Ladybugs or Lady beetles Coccinellidae

Taxonomy: Order Coleoptera > Superfamily Cucujoidea > Family Coccinellidae


Useful web info: UK Ladybird Survey Website; Wikipedia Coccinellidae page

22-Spot Ladybird, Psyllobora (Thea) vigintiduopunctata (or P. 22-punctata)

A non-predatory ladybird that lives on mildews and other microscopic fungi growing on plant tissues and soil. Quite small at 3-4 mm long, it's the brightest of the three yellow ladybirds found in Britain. Usually found close to the ground among long grasses and other low-growing vegetation. The larva has similar colouration.

How many spots? It seems that only the spots on the wing covers are counted, and not those on the "pronotum" behind the head. This specimen has 10 or 11 on each wing case depending on how you count the double spot midway along the outer side.

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