Ground Beetles (Carabidae)

Ground beetles are among the biggest and most diverse families of beetles, with over 40,000 species globally. Over 2300 beetles live in North America, while 2700 live in Europe.

Common Beetles Belonging to this Family

Scientific Classification

These beetles are separated into several subfamilies, which consist of several genera.

  • Anthiinae
  • Apotominae
  • Brachininae
  • Broscinae
  • Carabinae
    • Altagonum
    • Aplothorax
    • Calosoma
    • Carabus
    • Cychrus
    • Homothes
    • Fortagonum
    • Laemostenus
    • Notagonum
  • Cicindelinae
  • Ctenodactylinae
  • Dryptinae
  • Elaphrinae
    • Blethisa
    • Diacheila
    • Elaphrus
  • Gineminae
  • Harpalinae
  • Hiletinae
  • Lebiinae
  • Licininae
  • Loricerinae
    • Loricera
  • Melaeninae
  • Migadopinae
  • Nebriinae
    • Leistus
    • Nebria
    • Notiophilus
    • Pelophila
    • Nippononebria
  • Nototylinae
  • Omophroninae
    • Omophron
  • Orthogoniinae
  • Panagaeinae
  • Paussinae
  • Platyninae
  • Promecognathinae
  • Protorabinae
  • Pseudomorphinae
  • Psydrinae
  • Pterostichinae
  • Rhysodinae
  • Scaritinae
    • Clivina
    • Dyschirius
    • Scarites
  • Siagoninae
  • Trechinae
  • Xenaroswellianinae

Physical Description and Identification


Size: 0.125-0.25 in (0.31-1.27 cm)

Color: Varied; most are black and dark brown, though other colors like bronze and green are seen. A metallic sheen is observed in the beetles of this family.

Other Characteristic Features: The beetles produce noxious or even acidic chemicals, which they spray at predators to deter them.


They are either black or brown, with elongated bodies and six legs on the thorax. Their bodies are segmented with pincers on their heads.


Pupation generally occurs after three instars, with the beetles staying underground during this stage.


The eggs are white, small, and oval-shaped. Females lay 30-600 eggs on either the soil or the leaves of the host plant.

Quick Facts

Lifespan 2-3 years
Distribution Worldwide
Habitat Mostly in forests, but also deserts, mountains, and seashores
Predators Spiders, other ground beetles
Seasons active Spring to early summer
Host Plants Asparagus, rhubarb, and other flowering and herbaceous plants
Diet of adults Aphids, larvae of moths and beetles, mites, and springtails

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

These beetles do not cause any damage intentionally and only use their pincers and spray their chemicals in defense.

Did You Know

  • French zoologist Pierre André Latreille first described this family of beetles in 1802.

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    Epomis beetles belong to the family of ground beetles. Their feeding behavior is unique as these beetles prey on amphibians in an interesting role reversal of predator and prey.

  • Ohlone Tiger Beetle (Cicindela ohlone)

    The Ohlone tiger beetle, endemic to California, is a member of the family of ground beetles. It was first discovered in 1987 and named in 1993 by Freitag & Kavanaugh.

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    The fire searcher beetle is a member of the family of ground beetles. It is alternately called caterpillar hunter as it preys upon caterpillar in its larva and adult stage, helping to keep the pest population down. They secrete a foul-smelling oil, similar to rotten milk or rancid olive oil, when handled. These beetles, one […]

  • Puritan Tiger Beetle (Cicindela puritana)

    The puritan tiger beetle is a predatory beetle that is a member of the family of ground beetles.  It is notable for being an endangered species, to the point that conservation efforts have been started to save them. 

  • Black Clock Beetle (Pterostichus madidus)

    The black clock beetle of the ground beetle family is indigenous to Europe, notably the United Kingdom. As evident from their name, they are majorly black, mainly thriving in woodlands, grasslands, and gardens during summer.

  • Violet Ground Beetle (Carabus violaceus)

    The violet ground beetle is a member of the family of ground beetles. Like all other ground beetles, these are predators and are beneficial to farmers, hunting several pests to many crops. Their name is a result of their shiny violet coloration.

  • Violin Beetle (Mormolyce phyllodes)

    Violin beetle of the ground beetle family and Lebiinae subfamily is indigenous to the Southeast Asian rainforests. The violin-shaped translucent elytra earn these beetles their name.

  • False Bombardier (Galerita bicolor)

    The false bombardier beetle is a part of the ground beetles family indigenous to the United States. This species has attained its name as it mimics the shape and colors of the bombardier beetle to shield itself from predators.

  • Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

    Six-spotted tiger beetle of the tiger beetles (Cicindelinae) subfamily and ground beetle (Carabidae) family is found in the deciduous forest areas of North America. The six small spots on their body, earn them their name, while they are also alternately called the six-spotted green tiger beetle because of the green body color.

  • Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris)

    Green tiger beetle of the tiger beetle (Carabidae) family is distributed throughout Eurasia. They are known for being an agile and ferocious predator, acquiring the name because of their metallic, shiny green body.