With more than 350,000 known species, beetles are one of the largest groups of animals on earth. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.
The smallest known beetle, Feather-winged beetles, measure about 0.325 mm. The largest beetle, known as Hercules beetle, is about 16.7 cm (6.6 in.) including its long horn.
They live in different habitats, and eat all different kinds of food. Some are strictly vegetarian, some eat dung, some are predators. Given this wide variety, the predators of beetles also varies.
Read on to learn more.
What Animals Eat Beetles?
This list, of course, will vary depending on the location and type of beetle. In general, though, the list of animals that eats beetles includes:
Although some species of beetles have natural defenses, they are still small and won’t be able to do much against larger predators like raccoons, skunks, moles, and shrews. Even the Hercules beetle needs to be wary of skunks and raccoons, which eat them at the larval stage.
Bats and rats eat adult beetles.
Aye-ayes, an unusual looking lemur, also eat beetles. It listens for beetles burrowing in the wood of trees, and uses its long third finger to pull these juicy meals out of their holes.
Panther chameleons use their long tongues to catch beetles as they fly or crawl by. Geckos eat beetles who are most active at night. Size and hard shells won’t protect beetles from monitor lizards, who will dine on any beetle that wanders nearby.
Frogs eat anything that fits into their wide mouths. Beetles are simply another option for a healthy, calorie-filled snack. To be fair, there are some carnivorous beetles that eat the occasional frog (Epomis beetles) but usually its the frog that dines on a beetle-shaped snack.
Birds eat adult beetles as well as beetle larvae. Birds that make a habit of eating beetles include: bluebirds, cardinals, grosbeaks, oriole, sparrows, swallows, titmice, and woodpeckers. Some birds catch flying beetles in the air. Some seek them out in their hidden nests. Others, like woodpeckers, hunt for them in the bark of trees.
Hunting spiders seek out all kinds of prey, including beetles. Spiders that live on the ground will eat beetles that crawl on the ground. Of course, a web-building spider won’t turn a beetle down if it gets caught in the sticky trap. Of course, sometimes the tables are turned and beetles will eat spiders.
Centipedes, mantises, and scorpions occasionally eat beetles.
And finally, carnivorous beetles will dine on their beetle cousins, given the opportunity. It always seems to be a bug eat bug world.
This list covers beetles from jungles to desserts and everywhere in between. Still, different beetle species have different natural predators.
Read on for more specifics.
What Eats Japanese Beetles?
Although basically harmless to humans, these iridescent green beetles are considered pests because of the damage they can do to gardens. They voraciously eat any plant, but especially love roses.
Unintentionally transplanted from Japan to the United States in 1916, these beetles prey upon at least 200 different kinds of plants, damaging many. Their grubs also feed underground, damaging grass at the roots.
There are various methods used to control Japanese beetle populations, such as traps, pesticides, and barriers.
The other imperfect option is to rely on some of the natural predators of Japanese beetles. This is imperfect because natural predation does not work fast enough to control an invasion of Japanese beetles.
Wild species that feast on Japanese beetles include: wild turkeys, spiders, assassin bugs, ants, ground beetles, and predatory stink bugs. Tachinid flies attach eggs to beetle bodies. The fly larvae burrow into the bodies and then eat their way out.
Of course, if you want to be proactive and help keep Japanese beetles away from your own garden, you could introduce a few domestic predators of beetles into your family.
Bring in some chickens, ducks, or guinea hens and they will help you keep your insect population, including Japanese beetles, under control.
What Eats Flea Beetles?
This small jumping beetle is also considered a pest because it feasts on crops like mustard, rapeseed, and flowers in gardens. Unlike Japanese beetles, to use other plants to protect crops, like thyme or planting crops that lure them away like radishes.
Natural predators like the Tachinid fly and Braconid wasps help keep flea beetle populations down. Like the Tachinid flies, Braconid wasps insert their eggs into the beetles, where their larva can then act as parasites.
Ladybugs (themselves another form of beetle) will also eat flea beetles.
Another option is to seek some microscopic predatorial help. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic organisms that kill flea beetle larvae. They also kill Japanese beetle larvae, which is an added advantage. They don’t harm humans, pets, or helpful beetles like ladybugs.
What Eats Cucumber Beetles?
Cucumber beetles can be striped or spotted, and love feasting on the saplings of cucumbers, summer squash, pumpkins, and green beans. They also spread bacterial diseases and viruses from plant to plant, so cause lots of damage to gardens.
There are many solutions to keep the population down including planting other plants, traps, vacuums, and other nifty tricks. With these beetles as well, you can hope for an assist from braconid wasps, nematodes, and soldier beetles.
Soldier beetles are considered beneficial insects. They look like fireflies without the glow. Soldier beetle larvae help control pests like aphids and cucumber beetles.
What Eats Dung Beetles?
There are about 75 different species of dung beetles, and like their name implies they eat . . . well, dung. In this sense they are beneficial beetles, because without them we would, frankly, be buried in feces. They are found on all continents except Antarctica. Still, even helpful dung beetles have their animals.
Burrowing owls sometimes use animal feces to bait a trap for dung beetles. According to one source, there are 409 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that enjoy a meal of dung beetle. (Predation on Dung Beetle) Hungry animals are hungry animals, even feasting on a beetle that dines on dung.