Insect identification > Coleoptera > True Coleoptera > Lamellicorn beetles

Lamellicorn beetles

Family Scarabaeidae (lamellicorn beetles). - This is a very large and important family of beetles, containing many pests. The antennae in this group have several of the terminal segments large, flattened, and broader on one side, movable but generally carried close together. The insects are stout and rather short in most cases, and the elytra usually do not cover the entire abdomen.

Based on their habits, two sections of the family can be distinguished: the scavengers, which as both larvae and adults feed on decaying matter; and the leaf chafers, which as adults generally consume leaves or flowers, and whose larvae occur in the ground feeding on roots or in decaying wood.

The scavengers, though they may be considered as beneficial, are not of great importance, but some species because of their peculiar habits have attracted attention for centuries. The habit referred to is that shown by some of the so-called "tumble-bugs" in connection with egg­laying. A pair of these beetles will together form a little dung into a ball which they then begin to roll over the ground, often for a long distance. Finally they bury it in the ground after an egg has been laid upon it, thus providing partially decomposed food for the larva.

The sacred beetle or Scarabaeus of the Egyptians was one of the insects of this group and has been preserved in their drawings and carvings as a symbolic record of their beliefs. The leaf chafers form the larger part of the family. Among them are a number of serious pests.