Hairy Rove Beetle

2013 October 12

Sandy found this insect on the inside of our kitchen window on October 5, 2012. It was about 3/4 inch long, and fast. I had to put it in one of our small, smooth, white ceramic bowls (which have walls too smooth for most insects to climb) so that I could get pictures without it running away.

This is an easily-identified species; the Hairy Rove Beetle, Creophilus maxillosus. Even though it looks nymph-like because of the lack of visible wings, it is actually an adult. And it may have functional wings stuffed under those small wing covers on its shoulders, kind of like earwigs do.

Like a lot of rove beetles, they are carnivorus, although they mostly hang around carrion and dung, where they mostly eat fly maggots. They definitely have predatory mandibles, if you look in this next picture you can see the long mandibles crossing over scissor-style.

They aren’t fussy about what they eat, though. We kept this one for a couple of days, and fed it a dead cricket, which it promptly devoured.

We thought about keeping it for a pet, except for one detail: the smell. Holy cow, did it reek. Particularly if something disturbed it. Let’s see, how to describe the smell? Kind of like seriously rotting meat that had been boiled in acid, I think. Nasty, in other words. So we let it go out in the yard.

While these are believed to be a non-native species, they obviously hopped pretty much the first available ships from Europe – they were first reported in North America around 1620. They apparently never became seriously common, although they are quite widespread. There are always fly larvae to eat, after all.

One Response
  1. Carolyn permalink
    August 18, 2018

    I just found one of these outside our house and initially thought it was some type of wingless bee, due to the hairy abdomen. It really threw me for a loop and I posted a video in an Entomology group to find the ID. Several people said it was a rove beetle, which finally led me to look in the right place and I came across your post. Thanks!

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