Home / Darkling Beetles (Tenebrionidae) / Blue Death Feigning Beetle (Asbolus verrucosus)

Blue Death Feigning Beetle (Asbolus verrucosus)

Blue death feigning beetle or desert ironclad beetle, as alternately called, belongs to the darkling beetle family. It mainly inhabits the desert regions of the southwestern parts of the United States. The ability to feign death when threatened, alongside their blue body, earns them their name.

Blue Death Feigning Beetle

Scientific Classification

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 18 – 21 mm (0.71 – 0.83 inches)

Color: Their name is a revelation of their body color. These beetles appear powdery blue because of wax secretion that saves them from getting dehydrated in the desert climate by lessening their chances of losing moisture. Moreover, it also acts as a shield protecting the beetles from excessive heat in their habitats.

Other Characteristic Features: The blue death feigning beetles exhibit sexual dimorphism with visible differences seen in males and females.

The male species are a little smaller than their female counterparts. They also have bristled red hairs on their antennae that can be seen under proper lighting. Both the sexes have bumps on their abdomen that look like tiny warts, which is also what ‘verrucosus’, a part of their scientific name, means.

Asbolus verrucosus

Larva

The white larva is large and grub-like.

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Larvae

Pupa

Not much is known about the identification and description of the pupae. However, they closely resemble adults and the pupal phase takes place in the colonies within the soil where the larvae and adults thrive.

Egg

The eggs are small and pale white.

Quick Facts

Other NamesDesert ironclad beetle
Adult lifespan8 years
Duration of larval stageNot recorded
DistributionSonoran desert in the southwestern United States
HabitatDeserts primarily within leaf litters or barks
Common PredatorsMainly spider
Seasons active fromNot recorded
Host PlantsNot recorded
Diet of larvae and adultsFruit, dead insects, plant matter
Desert Ironclad Beetle

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They mostly live in leaf litters and barks of trees, though they are not known to cause immense damage to the plants.

As Pets

Because of their long lifespan, hardy nature, and easy-maintenance, the blue death feigning beetle has become a popular pet choice. They do not require additional humidity and would suffice with a dry sand substrate. These beetles also do not need water dishes since they eat fruits and even cat and dog food. They can coexist with tank mates like velvet ants or desert hairy scorpions in insectariums and zoos.

Did You Know

  • They are crepuscular species, being highly active during the twilight period- dawn and dusk.
  • These beetles have a unique mechanism of playing dead. It would immediately roll to its back when threatened, bending all the legs giving a dried look as if it is dead. On sensing that it is out of danger, it would again become upright and resume hunting.
Blue Death Feigning Beetle Picture

Image Source: lh3.googleusercontent.com, 64.media.tumblr.com, indyslair.net, i.pinimg.com, entomology.unl.edu

Blue death feigning beetle or desert ironclad beetle, as alternately called, belongs to the darkling beetle family. It mainly inhabits the desert regions of the southwestern parts of the United States. The ability to feign death when threatened, alongside their blue body, earns them their name.

Blue Death Feigning Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 18 – 21 mm (0.71 – 0.83 inches)

Color: Their name is a revelation of their body color. These beetles appear powdery blue because of wax secretion that saves them from getting dehydrated in the desert climate by lessening their chances of losing moisture. Moreover, it also acts as a shield protecting the beetles from excessive heat in their habitats.

Other Characteristic Features: The blue death feigning beetles exhibit sexual dimorphism with visible differences seen in males and females.

The male species are a little smaller than their female counterparts. They also have bristled red hairs on their antennae that can be seen under proper lighting. Both the sexes have bumps on their abdomen that look like tiny warts, which is also what ‘verrucosus’, a part of their scientific name, means.

Asbolus verrucosus

Larva

The white larva is large and grub-like.

Blue Death Feigning Beetle Larvae

Pupa

Not much is known about the identification and description of the pupae. However, they closely resemble adults and the pupal phase takes place in the colonies within the soil where the larvae and adults thrive.

Egg

The eggs are small and pale white.

Quick Facts

Other NamesDesert ironclad beetle
Adult lifespan8 years
Duration of larval stageNot recorded
DistributionSonoran desert in the southwestern United States
HabitatDeserts primarily within leaf litters or barks
Common PredatorsMainly spider
Seasons active fromNot recorded
Host PlantsNot recorded
Diet of larvae and adultsFruit, dead insects, plant matter
Desert Ironclad Beetle

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They mostly live in leaf litters and barks of trees, though they are not known to cause immense damage to the plants.

As Pets

Because of their long lifespan, hardy nature, and easy-maintenance, the blue death feigning beetle has become a popular pet choice. They do not require additional humidity and would suffice with a dry sand substrate. These beetles also do not need water dishes since they eat fruits and even cat and dog food. They can coexist with tank mates like velvet ants or desert hairy scorpions in insectariums and zoos.

Did You Know

  • They are crepuscular species, being highly active during the twilight period- dawn and dusk.
  • These beetles have a unique mechanism of playing dead. It would immediately roll to its back when threatened, bending all the legs giving a dried look as if it is dead. On sensing that it is out of danger, it would again become upright and resume hunting.
Blue Death Feigning Beetle Picture

Image Source: lh3.googleusercontent.com, 64.media.tumblr.com, indyslair.net, i.pinimg.com, entomology.unl.edu

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