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11 Common Types of Beetles in Colorado

Due to their varied coloration, physical attributes, and even characteristics, beetles are among the most fascinating creatures worldwide. In fact, there are at least 300 species in the state of Colorado out of the 350,000 species that exist worldwide. Some beetles in Colorado play an important role in the ecosystem, particularly in dispersing pollen to help plants grow. This article will help you learn more about just a few of the different beetles that can be found in Colorado.

11 Beetles in Colorado

1. Margined carrion beetle

Margined carrion beetle on a plant
Margined carrion beetle on a plant | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Oiceoptoma noveboracense

The margined carrion beetle is a carrion beetle species native to eastern North America. They live in grasslands and marshes and feed on rotting fungi, carrion, and maggots. This species can grow to be half an inch long and is dark brown or black in color.

Female beetles look for dead animals to lay their eggs in. The beetles prefer large rotting meats so that the larvae have something to eat after other animals have consumed it. They’ll mature into adults in 45 days and will also overwinter as adults.

2. Blue fungus beetle

Blue fungus beetle
A blue fungus beetle on finger tip | image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr

Scientific Name: Gibbifer californicus

Blue fungus beetles are among the most common beetles in Colorado. They can be found in densely forested areas with large trees. These beetles are named after their distinctive blue or purple wings with a dark spot.

These beetle larvae feed on fungi and live in decaying wood. Adults do the same, but they also feed on nectars and pollen. Breeding occurs in the spring after the species overwinters as adults.

3. Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle
A colorado potato beetle | Image by Pavlo from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Leptinotarsa decemlineata

Colorado potato beetle is a large, striped insect in the Chrysomelidae family. It’s native to the United States and feeds on potatoes, eggplants, and other nightshade family members.

It’s a voracious eater that, if not controlled, can destroy entire crops. They’re commonly found near potted plants, garden beds, and vegetable gardens.

Adult beetles are bright yellow with five brown stripes. Their larvae are Reddish brown in color with brown spots on the sides. These insects can grow from eggs to adults in just 21 days if given the right conditions.

4. Mountain pine beetle

Mountain pine beetle on white surface
Mountain pine beetle on white surface | image by Steve Clarkson via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Dendroctonus ponderosae

The mountain pine beetle is a native insect that can be found in North American forests. The growth of this insect is determined by the altitude at which it lives. They take two years to mature at high elevations, but only one year at low elevations.

These beetles aid in the breakdown of decaying trees, but due to their outbreak, the mountain pine beetle has become one of the most destructive insects affecting trees in Colorado today. It feeds on a wide range of coniferous trees, including pines, spruces, and firs.

5. Strawberry root weevil

Strawberry root weevil on the ground
Strawberry root weevil on the ground | image by Line Sabroe via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Otiorhynchus ovatus

The strawberry root weevil is a tiny creature with a reddish brown or black body that is only about 1/4 inch long. It’s most active from mid-May to early June up to late September, when it lays eggs on the roots of strawberries, clover, and grasses.

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They lay their eggs near the base of a strawberry plant. The larvae that develop from the eggs live in the soil and consume plant parts. These larvae can consume a variety of plants, including carrots and radishes, in addition to strawberries.

6. Ten-lined June beetle

Ten-lined june beetle
A ten-lined june beetle | image by Melissa McMasters via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Polyphylla decemlineata

Ten-lined June beetle is a type of scarab beetle that lives in deciduous forests and spends the majority of its time underground, preferably in sandy soils. The ten-lined June beetle is approximately 1 to 1.5 inches long and reddish brown in color.

The mails’ antennae are feathery to detect females during mating season. They’re herbivores that feed primarily on plant roots. When threatened, this species is also known for hissing, which sounds like the hissing of a bat to scare off predators.

7. Emerald ash borer beetle

Emerald ash borer beetle on rocks
Emerald ash borer beetle on rocks | image by USDA Animal and Plant Hea via Flickr

Scientific Name: Agrilus planipennis

The emerald ash borer beetle is a species of beetle in the Buprestidae family. Adult beetles are approximately half an inch long and metallic green in color. Their body is bullet-shaped and slender, with a purplish red abdomen.

Adult beetles typically breed from May to August, laying their eggs on the bark of trees. After ten days, the eggs hatch and begin feeding on the tree’s inner bark. They primarily consume ash trees such as the Autumn Purple White Ash and Blue Ash.

8. Colorado soldier beetle

Colorado soldier beetle on a flower
Colorado soldier beetle on a flower | image by xpda via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientific Name: Chauliognathus basalis 

The Colorado soldier beetle is a native beetle found in Western North America. It was named after the state of Colorado, where it’s most common. The Colorado soldier beetle can be found in areas with loose soil, especially during the summer months.

The adult beetle consumes flower nectar and pollen, whereas the larvae consume other insects. You can also find it in gardens, where it eats aphids and other plant-harming pests. Brightly colored flowers like marigolds, sunflowers, and other Asteraceae family flowers are known to attract these beetles.

9. Black blister beetle

Black blister beetle on a flower
A black blister beetle on a flower | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Epicauta pensylvanica

Black blister beetle is a soft-winged black insect that can grow up to 12 mm long. They‘re common in Colorado and are usually seen feeding on the nectar and pollen of flowers. Since these insects are drawn to bright yellow flowers, they’re common in goldenrod and rabbitbrush plants.

Adults typically lay their eggs in the soil where the larva lives after hatching. Black blisters eat grasshopper eggs and overwinter before pupating. Then, over the course of the summer, new adults will appear.

10. Checkered melon beetle

Checkered melon beetle
Checkered melon beetle | image by NMSU IPM via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Paranapiacaba tricincta

The checkered melon beetle is a common insect in southeastern Colorado. These insects have a black and white pattern on their back and can grow to be 7 mm long. They primarily feed on gourd plants such as pumpkin, cucumber, melons, and cantaloupe.

The beetles feed on their leaves as well as pollen from flowers, particularly sunflowers. Adults of this species emerge in late spring and early summer after larvae develop in the soil.

11. Cherry curculio beetle

Scientific Name: Anthonomus consors 

Cherry curculio beetle is a type of weevil that feeds on flowering plant blossoms, and even fruit stems, most commonly cherries, peaches, and plums. They’re most active in the spring, when they breed and lay their eggs inside the fruits.

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The females insert their eggs through a small hole in the fruit, and this is where they’ll hatch, feed, and pupate. Adult beetles will then eat their way out of the fruit before the winter season arrives.