Carabidae (ground beetles) 1, 2, 3, 4

Carabidae overview

There are over 25,000 species of Carabids (ground beetles) in 1500 genera world wide and over 400 in the UK. In some books the Carabidae are divided up into smaller families. The fossil record goes as far back as the Permian. They are usually found on the ground and can run fast. The adults range in length from 3 - 36 mm, and are mainly nocturnal. Many of the European carabids are voracious predators of snails, slugs and many other invertebrates, so should be cherished by gardeners. In areas where the weather is cold, many species hibernate during the winter.

Carabid larva, ground beetle larva

The photograph above and drawing below below show a typical carabid larva. The abdomen has 10 segments including the anal tube, 3 leg-bearing segments making up the thorax, and 1 head segment. Carabid larvae are even more predatory than the adults.

larva of a carabid beetle, ground beetle larva

The typical carabid adult is shown in the photograph below of Cychrus caraboides, note the long, filiform 11 segmented antennae, legs thin and long for fast running, and huge jaws for crushing and dismembering prey. Nearly all adults are carnivores, and they are not usually too choosy about what they eat - they will take anything that they can get into their fearsome jaws. There are a few specialists such as Cychrus caraboides, below, that preys on snails.

Cychrus caraboides, adult carabid, snail eating beetle

rear leg of carabid beetle