February 27, 2024

Rove Beetle (Tasgius ater) not (T. melanarius)!

This one just wandered under our back door last night. I could do with a few more taking this kind of initiative, or else I may find myself in the middle of winter with no archive species to add to the blog.

Rove Beetles (Staphylinidae), are an ancient and vast family of beetles. There are over 46,000 species, the second largest group in the absurdly numerous order of Beetles (Coleoptera). Fossil rove beetles date back to the Triassic period, 200 million years ago.

Their most obvious distinguishing characteristic is the short wing cases which just cover the thorax, rather saucily leaving much of their abdomen exposed. When threatened, some, T. ater included, arch their tail up scorpion-like and it’s thought that they even squirt a noxious chemical to drive the point home.

This particular species T. ater is pretty large as Rove Beetles go, mine being around 15mm, but a tiddler in comparison with Ocypus olens, the Devil’s Coach Horse. My Mum caught one of these in a glass for me to see when I was very little, and this is still one of my earliest insect memories.

Thanks to a very helpful chap named Boris who saw the picture on flickr, I’ve changed this ID from T. melanarius to T. ater. Although very similar, the shininess of this beetle’s head is a distinguishing feature.