Home / Rove Beetles (Staphylinidae) / Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle (Ocypus olens)

Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle (Ocypus olens)

Devil’s coach horse beetle belonging to the rove beetles family is indigenous to North Africa and Europe. However, it later made its mark in the continents of America and Australasia. This beetle was associated with the Devil in different folklores since the Middle Ages and has been called so, alongcol3 other names like Devil’s coachman and Devil’s footman.

Devils Coach Horse Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 20 – 32 mm (0.8 – 1.3 inches)

Color: The devil’s coach horse beetle has a dark coloration mainly because of the black hairs covering its body.  

Scientific Classification

Other Characteristic Features: These beetles are exceptional because of their large size and prominent features. They have a long body, alongcol3 short wing covers which cover only the thorax but keep their powerful and strong abdomen exposed. In fact the abdominal segments of these beetles have coverings of sclerotized plates.

Ocypus olens

Larva

The larva takes a month to emerge from the eggs and go through three instars, growing to about 20 – 26 mm (0.78 – 1.02 inches) during the final stage. Initially, they appear white, having a straw-colored head, with the hue deepening with maturation. They dwell underground, and similar to the adults, the larvae also have prominent mandibles, raising their tails and opening their jaws if disturbed.

Devils Coach Horse Beetle Larvae

Pupa

The larval stage lasts for approximately five months, after which it starts to pupate. The pupation period spans about 35 days. When the adult emerges, their body color develops, but the wings remain underdeveloped for a while.

Egg

The females lay eggs in about 21 days from mating in damp habitats like leaf litter, stones, or cow manure. The big-sized eggs, 4mm (0.16 inches) in size, appear white with dark bands.

Quick Facts

Other NamesDevil’s coachman, devil’s footman, cock-tail beetle, devil’s steed, darbh-daol or dearga-daol (in Ireland)
Adult lifespan9 – 12 months
Duration of larval stage5 months
DistributionNative: Europe (mainly Britain and Ireland), North Africa
Invasive: Australasia, Americas
HabitatWoodland, hedgerows, meadow, grassland
Common PredatorsNot recorded
Seasons active fromApril – October
Host PlantsNot recorded
Diet of larvae and adultsSlug, spider, worm, woodlice, small moth
Devils Coachman

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They do not cause damage to plants but fiercely prey upon insects, catching the enemy with their strong mandibles and reducing it to a ball or bolus. Chewing and swallowing the bolus constantly coverts it to a liquid, which finally gets digested.

In the case of any infestation in the backyard or garden, one could get rid of them by removing their food source like any rotting insect from the sight. However, as they are harmless and don’t bite unless provoked, leaving these beetles to themselves would be a better option.

Devils Coach Horse Beetle Damage

Did You Know

  • They react a little aggressively when threatened or disturbed by displaying scorpion-like traits of raising their abdomen and keeping their powerful jaws wide opened. As a defensive mechanism, these beetles even secrete a bad-smelling liquid from two white glands situated towards the end of their abdomen.
  • Despite its aggression, the devil’s coach beetle is not dangerous, though its bite could be painful due to its pincer-like jaws.
  • Because of its trait of raising its abdomen, it is also known as the cocktail beetle.
  • As per certain folklores, this beetle was known to have consumed the apple’s core discarded by Eve, thus becoming man’s enemy. Myths also say that the person crushing this beetle would be relieved of his seven sins.
Devils Coach Horse Beetle Picture

Image Source: s3.amazonaws.com, inaturalist-open-data.s3.amazonaws.com, wtlivewebtierstorage.blob.core.windows.net, andrejfourie.files.wordpress.com, upload.wikimedia.org, lh3.googleusercontent.com

Devil’s coach horse beetle belonging to the rove beetles family is indigenous to North Africa and Europe. However, it later made its mark in the continents of America and Australasia. This beetle was associated with the Devil in different folklores since the Middle Ages and has been called so, alongcol3 other names like Devil’s coachman and Devil’s footman.

Devils Coach Horse Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 20 – 32 mm (0.8 – 1.3 inches)

Color: The devil’s coach horse beetle has a dark coloration mainly because of the black hairs covering its body.  

Other Characteristic Features: These beetles are exceptional because of their large size and prominent features. They have a long body, alongcol3 short wing covers which cover only the thorax but keep their powerful and strong abdomen exposed. In fact the abdominal segments of these beetles have coverings of sclerotized plates.

Ocypus olens

Larva

The larva takes a month to emerge from the eggs and go through three instars, growing to about 20 – 26 mm (0.78 – 1.02 inches) during the final stage. Initially, they appear white, having a straw-colored head, with the hue deepening with maturation. They dwell underground, and similar to the adults, the larvae also have prominent mandibles, raising their tails and opening their jaws if disturbed.

Devils Coach Horse Beetle Larvae

Pupa

The larval stage lasts for approximately five months, after which it starts to pupate. The pupation period spans about 35 days. When the adult emerges, their body color develops, but the wings remain underdeveloped for a while.

Egg

The females lay eggs in about 21 days from mating in damp habitats like leaf litter, stones, or cow manure. The big-sized eggs, 4mm (0.16 inches) in size, appear white with dark bands.

Quick Facts

Other NamesDevil’s coachman, devil’s footman, cock-tail beetle, devil’s steed, darbh-daol or dearga-daol (in Ireland)
Adult lifespan9 – 12 months
Duration of larval stage5 months
DistributionNative: Europe (mainly Britain and Ireland), North Africa
Invasive: Australasia, Americas
HabitatWoodland, hedgerows, meadow, grassland
Common PredatorsNot recorded
Seasons active fromApril – October
Host PlantsNot recorded
Diet of larvae and adultsSlug, spider, worm, woodlice, small moth
Devils Coachman

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They do not cause damage to plants but fiercely prey upon insects, catching the enemy with their strong mandibles and reducing it to a ball or bolus. Chewing and swallowing the bolus constantly coverts it to a liquid, which finally gets digested.

In the case of any infestation in the backyard or garden, one could get rid of them by removing their food source like any rotting insect from the sight. However, as they are harmless and don’t bite unless provoked, leaving these beetles to themselves would be a better option.

Devils Coach Horse Beetle Damage

Did You Know

  • They react a little aggressively when threatened or disturbed by displaying scorpion-like traits of raising their abdomen and keeping their powerful jaws wide opened. As a defensive mechanism, these beetles even secrete a bad-smelling liquid from two white glands situated towards the end of their abdomen.
  • Despite its aggression, the devil’s coach beetle is not dangerous, though its bite could be painful due to its pincer-like jaws.
  • Because of its trait of raising its abdomen, it is also known as the cocktail beetle.
  • As per certain folklores, this beetle was known to have consumed the apple’s core discarded by Eve, thus becoming man’s enemy. Myths also say that the person crushing this beetle would be relieved of his seven sins.
Devils Coach Horse Beetle Picture

Image Source: s3.amazonaws.com, inaturalist-open-data.s3.amazonaws.com, wtlivewebtierstorage.blob.core.windows.net, andrejfourie.files.wordpress.com, upload.wikimedia.org, lh3.googleusercontent.com

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