are usually easy to distinguish from other kinds of insects because
of their "elytra." Elytra are a beetle's front wings,
and they have evolved into hard, shell-like coverings that protect
the back wings and abdomen. In fact, the scientific order
name for beetles, Coleoptera, means "sheath wing." Beetle
elytra usually meet in a straight line down the middle of the abdomen
The meeting line between the two elytra.
Almost all beetles have this line that runs down their back.
Beetles also have chewing
mouthparts, and all beetles have complete metamorphosis, which means
that they (like butterflies and moths), have 4 distinct life stages
(egg, larva, pupa, adult).
There are thousands of
beetle species in Kentucky. Get familiar with some of the
most common types by opening one of the Critter Files above.