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Ground Beetles 101: Everything You Need to Know

May 03, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

In many parts of the U.S., ground beetles are a common sight outdoors, particularly during the summer months. Finding a ground beetle in your house may be alarming, but the good news is that these pests don’t pose a significant threat to humans or pets. Read on to get the facts on ground beetles.

What is a ground beetle?

Ground beetle is a term for a family of insects that includes more than 34,000 species. Hundreds of them live in the U.S. Most are brown or black and grow to be 0.125 inches to 1 inch long. Like other insects, they have six legs, two antennae, and segmented bodies with a distinct head, thorax, and abdomen.

Close up of a ground beetle on a leaf

Do ground beetles fly? 

Some species of ground beetles do have the ability to fly. However, they are much more likely to move over the ground (hence the name) than rely on their wings to get from place to place.

Where do ground beetles live? 

Ground beetles prefer to make their homes outdoors. They live in forests, fields, shorelines, and farms. In your backyard, they may hide under loose bark on trees, in tall grass, under fallen leaves, below bushes, or beneath logs and stones. If you disturb them, they usually flee, looking for a new hiding place. You’re not likely to see many inside the home.

What do ground beetles eat? 

Ground beetles are predators. Their diets include small flies, caterpillars, slugs, aphids, ants, maggots, small wasps, and other insects and invertebrates. In your garden, ground beetles can help control pests that damage plants. 

Do ground beetles bite?

Fortunately, the answer is no. These insects don’t bite. However, they might pinch you if they feel threatened. Some do release foul-smelling substances to ward off predators. While they can make your hands or home smell bad, these secretions aren’t harmful.

Ground beetle vs. a cockroach 

cockroach and ground beetle isolated on a white background
Cockroach and Ground Beetle

A brown or black ground beetle in a house may be mistaken for a cockroach, but there are some ways to tell these insects apart, including:

  • Wings: Ground beetles’ wings form a straight line on their bodies, while cockroaches’ wings overlap.
  • Bodies: Beetles have hard covers over their wings, giving their backs a ridged look. Cockroaches lack this feature and have smooth backs.
  • Movement: Cockroaches move quickly when disturbed, but beetles tend to walk more slowly.
  • Colony size: It’s rare to have large infestations of ground beetles in a house. Most often, you’ll find only a few living indoors because the insects prefer the outside. If you find a large number of pests together, you most likely have cockroaches rather than beetles.

How to get rid of ground beetles

If you find ground beetles in your house, you can address the problem by:

  • Relocating: For a single beetle, simply capturing them in a container and taking them outside, away from your home, should be adequate.
  • Fixing structural problems: Cracks and gaps in your home’s exterior can provide entry points for ground beetles to wander into accidentally. They may also come in through uncovered vents, gaps under doors, and failing seals around doors and windows. Making repairs to your home could reduce the risk of ground beetles getting in.
  • Move and eliminate outdoor hiding places: Keep wood piles, mulch piles, and large stones away from your home. If possible, don’t locate your garden too close to your home. Keep hedges trimmed and your lawn mowed.
  • Switch lighting: Use yellow outdoor bulbs instead of white, which can attract pests and bring the ground beetles that eat them.
  • Call a professional pest control company: Pest control specialists can develop a treatment plan to address a ground beetle infestation.

Pest control services 

If ground beetles in your home have become a nuisance, call Hawx Pest Control. Our licensed technicians can inspect your house, locate potential entry points, and create a treatment plan tailored to the beetle species. With state-of-the-art tools and high-quality products, we can address existing infestations and provide tips on controlling ground beetles in the future.

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