• Laboratoire des sols
  • Université de lorraine


Kingdom: Animal
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Pancrustacea
Class: Hexapoda
Subclass: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Carabidae


Beetle insects (Coleoptera) with slender and flattened body in 3 distinct parts (head, thorax, abdomen), 3 pairs of legs suitable for running, 2 visible antennas attached on the sides between the eyes and the powerful mandibles, 2 pairs of wings: the fore wings are thick and leathery (called elytra in beetles) and the unfolded wings are small (few carabids can fly). Some ground beetles may be large, such as the golden carabe (Carabus auratus) and the purple carabe (Carabus violaceus), or smaller with large eyes on the sides of the head such as the ground beetles of the genus Notiophilus.

Life cycle

Ground beetles have two types of development: summer larvae and winter larvae. Larvae that have a elongated body with 6 legs, come out at night (nocturnal) to hunt, like adults, and they turn into pupae in the soil. Adults live for many years because the fecundity of the ground beetles is low.


Adults and larvae of ground beetle are voracious and essentially carnivorous (larvae, eggs, small insects, slugs and snails) although some of them can eat seeds (granivores) and leftover fruits at the soil surface.


Ground beetles live in open habitats with a wide variety of habitats. They need for their survival some micro-habitats like hedges, piles of wood, leaves or stones, while they are also able to climb in the trees. They are very sensitive to phytosanitary products and the modification of their living environment.

Functional roles

Ground beetles are beneficial in regulating populations of small arthropods, aphids, mites, worms, and even snails and slugs. Granivores would mostly feed on weeds (plant growing spontaneously without planting), making it an important aid for the gardener and farmer.

Ground beetles serve as food for rodents and birds. 

Did you know?

When they feel threatened, the ground beetles can secrete through the anus a defensive liquid, odorous and caustic, and can emit by mouth a blackish juice, harmless for the man.

Last change : 08/05/19
  • Author :
  • A Auclerc (Université de Lorraine - INRA )
carabe photo 700 520
Figure 1
carabe photo 700 520 2
Figure 2