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Devil’s Coach Horse beetle

Devil’s Coach Horse beetle largest member of the Staphylindae family found in the Northern United States

Devil's Coach Horse beetle

Devil’s Coach Horse beetle

Adult beetles are long, slender, black, and measure 0.9 to 1.3 inches (22 to 33 millimeters) in length. The body is black with short elytra exposing most of the abdominal segments.

Devil’s Coach Horse is a common beetle of gardens, and can often be found under stones and in compost heaps. It is also common along hedgerows and in grassland. Devil’s Coach Horses are voracious predators, emerging after dark to prey on other invertebrates, and using their pincer-like jaws to crush them. They are fast-moving, preferring to run along the ground rather than fly, and are well-known for curling up their abdomens like the tail of a scorpion when defending themselves, being seen between April and October

Devil’s Coach Horse mate in autumn and a female will lay a single egg two to three weeks later in a damp, dark habitat such as leaf litter or moss. After around 30 days the larva will emerge, living mainly underground. As with their parents, Devil’s Coach Horse larvae are carnivorous feeding on a variety of other invertebrates; possess powerful jaws to catch and consume their prey; and can even adopt the threatened display of a raised tail and open jaws.

Devil's Coach Horse beetles

Devil’s Coach Horse beetle

The larva goes through three successive growth stages (instars). The third and final larval stage is reached after approximately 150 days when it is between 20 – 26mm in length. It is at this stage that pupation begins and an adult beetle emerges about 35 days later.

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