Rove Beetles In Gardens: Is A Rove Beetle Good Or Bad

By: Jackie Carroll

Rove beetles are predatory insects that can become your partner in controlling pest insects in the garden. Find rove beetle facts and information in this article. Read on to learn more.

What are Rove Beetles?

Rove beetles are members of the Staphylinidae family, which contains thousands of North American species. They range in length, though are typically about an inch (2.5 cm.) long. Rove beetles have the interesting habit of raising up the end of their bodies like a scorpion when disturbed or frightened, but they can’t sting or bite (they do, however, produce pederin, a toxin which can cause contact dermatitis if handled). Although they have wings and can fly, they usually prefer to run along the ground.

What Do Rove Beetles Eat?

Rove beetles feed on other insects and sometimes on rotting vegetation. Rove beetles in gardens feed on small insects and mites that infest plants, as well insects in the soil and on plant roots. Both the immature larvae and the adult beetles prey on other insects. Adult beetles on decaying animal carcasses are feeding on the insects that infest the carcass rather than the flesh of the dead animal.

The life cycle varies from one species to the next, but some larvae enter the pupae or larvae of their prey to feed, emerging a few weeks later as adults. Adult beetles have a large mandible that they use to grasp prey.

The Rove Beetle: Good or Bad?

Beneficial rove beetles can help eliminate harmful insect larvae and pupae in the garden. Although some species feed on a variety of insects, others target specific pests. For example, members of the Aleochara genus target root maggots. Unfortunately, they usually emerge too late to prevent most of the damage that root maggots cause.

The beetles are being reared in Canada and Europe in hopes of releasing them early enough to save important crops. Rove beetles aren’t yet available for release in the United States.

There are no special control measures for rove beetles. They do no harm in the garden, and once the insects or decaying matter that they feed on is gone, the beetles go away on their own.

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Discover 8 carrion beetles you should look out for

Ashleigh Whiffin discusses why carrion beetles are so important and interesting, and which species you can look out for.

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The Silphid beetles (family: Silphidae) are a very interesting group of insects, many of them associated with carrion which mean they also important decomposers/recyclers.

Species in genus Nicrophorus, commonly referred to as burying beetles or sexton beetles, are well known for their habits of burying small vertebrate carcasses. This group also display bi-parental care, a rare trait among beetles and for this reason are increasingly being used in behavioural research.

Other species will feed and breed on carrion but do not care for their young. There are a few members of this group that are not associated with carrion, some are herbivores and a couple are even predatory!

There are only 21 species recorded from the UK and most of these are reasonably large in size, making identification a little bit easier than some other groups of beetles.

Here are eight of our British species which are easy to recognise in the field:

Nicrophorus humator (18 – 26 mm)

All seven of the Nicrophorus can be easily recognised as they are reasonably large, chunky beetles, with large eyes, clubbed antenna and truncated wing cases (elytra).

Nicrophorus humator is the largest of our burying beetles and the only resident British species with entirely black elytra. It’s one of the commonest species, recorded throughout the UK. It is also attracted to light, so regularly turns up in moth traps.

Nicrophorus vespilloides (10 – 18 mm)

Can be separated from all other British species just by the colour of the antennae, the club is entirely black (orange in all other species). The commonest of the orange and black burying beetles, found throughout the UK. Attracted to light.

Nicrophorus investigator (12 – 22 mm)

Similar to the previous species, but with orange antennal clubs. The pronotum is hairless, hind legs are straight, anterior orange markings on elytra usually more or less continuous across the suture (but not always), with fine golden hairs at the tip of the abdomen only. A common and widespread species in the UK. Attracted to light.

Necrodes littoralis (15 – 25 mm)

This species is another one regularly recorded at light. It is entirely black apart from the very tips of the antenna which are orange. The key difference between this beetle and Nicrophorus humator its antenna are not clubbed. Unlike the burying beetles, this species breeds on carrion in situ (no concealment of the food resource) and the parents do not provide care for the young. It was previously thought to be more common near the coast, but there appears to be little evidence for this and is regularly recorded inland.

Oiceoptoma thoracicum (11 – 16 mm)

Very easy to recognise from the colour pattern (black elytra and striking orange pronotum), and commonly referred to as the Red-breasted Carrion beetle. It’s a bit more of a generalist, found on carrion, fungi and dung. Believed to have a particular association with the stinkhorn fungus Phallus impudicus. Can be found throughout Britain.

Thanatophilus rugosus (8 – 12 mm)

There are 3 species of Thanatophilus – all similar in size and shape. Thanatophilus rugosus is the easiest to recognise. It can be distinguished by the rough texture of the elytra (specifically the bumps between the ridges on the wing cases). Like Necrodes littoralis, it breeds on carrion in situ. The larvae are self-sufficient and sometimes found in large numbers.

Silpha atrata (10 – 15 mm)

This species is a specialised predator of snails. It is found in two colour forms black (above) and red (below). The black variety is commoner. Both are hairless and shiny in appearance, with an elongate head and mandibles – an adaptation to reach inside the shells of snails.

Their attack method also involves the release of digestive enzymes to dissolve the mucus and flesh of the snail. This predator is common and widespread throughout the UK, especially in wooded areas.

Dendroxena quadrimaculata (12 – 14 mm)

Like Silpha atrata, this species is predatory. It’s predominantly found in woodlands, on oak trees where it hunts caterpillars. With its orangey brown elytra marked with four black spots, it’s a very distinctive beetle, not easily confused with any other British species.



It goes by many names, call it tomcat, skirt and blouse, paapa, electric ant, devil’s coach and so on, it is still the same Rove beetle. The menace of rove beetle that has been rocking the university community for the past one month is another instance of the continuous struggle between human beings and their neighbours – the smaller animals.

Before now, there had been Lassa fever, bird flu and more recently, Ebola. Recently, Rove beetle has been the major health concern of the students and other members of the university of Ibadan community. While many have been hospitalised due to the scourge of these insects, majority of the student populace are still ignorant of the ways of these insects and the effects they have on their victims.


Rove beetle may look very harmless but it is very dangerous. It is a red and black insect and its body size is about 7-8mm. This insect causes blisters when it comes in contact with human skin. It has paederin toxins that cause burns on human skin. The toxin concentration is 12 times more venomous than cobra venom when it gets into your blood stream. Therefore, when the toxin enters your system, it will cause a systemic reaction which may lead to death. Rove beetle is attracted to light at night.

This insect occurs throughout the year but peaks when there is climate humidity which is why it has been prevalent on campus since the past few weeks. People who have physical contact with the beetle have burns on their body and the skin will become red followed by the appearance of pus in the centre of the wound in few days. The wound leaves a scar which is usually a dark patch especially if it is exposed to sunlight. Direct contact is not needed to experience skin discomfort or irritation because the toxin can be left behind on your towels, furniture or other things in your house. However, second-hand contact might not cause the same level of irritation as direct contact but it is still wise to be precautious especially if you have seen them hanging around your room as of late.


  • We know the “clap syndrome” is common among Nigerians and as much as you hate creepy crawly insects, this ant is an exception DON’T KILL or SQUASH IT.
  • Keep some insect repellent around your room and if you come in contact with the beetle, spray it until it is not moving again. Then, use a tool to pick it.
  • The beetle is attracted to light, so avoid being too close to light or minimize the use of light. Always turn off the lights when you are not in need of it.
  • Use mosquito nets, aerosol spray or a mixture of organic pesticides from neem leaves and lemongrass to kill the beetles.
  • If it has landed on the skin, do not kill it on the body, but flick away with your fingers or blow it until it leaves so it does not leave a mark or spread.


  • Immediately wash the infected area with soap and water. If skin reaction occurs, wash it with mild antiseptic.
  • Do not scratch the wound no matter how great the urge to itch it is. This is because the venom can even move to another part of the skin over the wound fluid.
  • If the injury occurs in the eye area and mucous membranes, you should immediately see a doctor.
  • With treatment, the wound will be better within 10 days to three weeks until the scar is gone.
  • Victims are also advised to avoid the sun so it will not cause inflammation that causes dark marks on the skin.

Other Beneficial Non-Insect Animals for Your Garden

18. Toads

Why They are Beneficial:

I had toads on my front porch a whole bunch back in 2008. I never understood why they were so attracted to my area and now I understand why- they like slugs and bugs and can eat up to ten thousand bugs during the summer months.

Plus, I think these little guys are awfully cute.

How to Attract Them:

Building toad houses will attract these beneficial amphibians. So having a place with shelter and moist shade. If you are curious about how to make a toad house, here’s a great DIY instruction manual.

19. Garter Snakes

Why They are Beneficial:

Garter Snakes also eat bad bugs from the garden and control crickets, grasshoppers, and other insects. Not having legs means that the garden snake is able to get into areas that are different from the other bugs or animals we have mentioned before now.

I also want to note that if you struggle with mice, a garden snake is another one to leave alone as well. They will eat your mice that are causing problems.

How to Attract Them:

Attract them by having some tall grass, bushes, or piles of woods or rocks. Thankfully, if you have a fireplace that uses wood, you should already have a woodpile.

20. Earthworms

Earthworms are a great addition to your garden. They will aerate your soil, their waste will make your soil richer, and they are excellent at breaking down everything you spread on your garden.

However, you should be careful of applying synthetic fertilizers to your garden when introducing earthworms to your garden because they will find a new home when the soil around them changes. In the case of adding synthetic fertilizers, it makes the soil salty and less desirable for the worms.

21. Baby Chicks

Why They are Beneficial:

I learned about this one from a fellow gardener friend who is also a teacher. She told me that they let the chicks in their garden for most of their young lives. The chicks will eat the bugs and not the plant because they don’t know what they are missing when they don’t touch the plants.

When they get a little older they start to realize that the fruits and vegetables are good too and start eating the plants. Obviously, at this point, they take the chicks and put them in a pen or let them roam free, depending on the time of day.

How to Attract Them:

Chicks are not something you can attract but if you do it just right you can purchase one set of female chicks along with one or two roosters and have enough chickens to produce more and your chicken population will grow over time.

22. Beneficial Nematodes

This option for a beneficial insect isn’t an insect at all, but it’s helpful and worth the share. Beneficial nematodes are a parasite which goes to town on protecting your garden. They eat over 200+ insects who start their lives in your garden soil.

Some of the insects include:

  • Weevils
  • Japanese beetles
  • Fleas
  • Fungus Gnats

It is best to purchase beneficial nematodes to introduce them to your garden. From there, you may have to reintroduce more beneficial nematodes each year as they frequently die off during the harshness of winter.

Having bugs in your garden might gross you out at first but when you come to realize that they are benefitting from your hospitality just as you are benefitting from them being there, then you realize this is a symbiotic relationship and all is well.

Your garden survives without harsh chemicals, making the food you eat better for you and for the world around you.

Thanks to things that are small, we become mighty!

5. Use beer or grapefruit traps

An effective way to trap and kill pesky slugs and snails is with a beer trap. Use a tray or any empty container and fill it with fresh beer. Any beer will do just fine, however, slugs seem to prefer dark ales the most. Place in your garden, leave it overnight and the slugs will be drawn to the smell of the yeast, crawl in, and drown. Make sure that the entrance to your container is an inch or so above ground so that your beneficial insects, such as rove beetles, don’t accidentally fall in. Watch this video to learn how to make your own beer trap.

You can also use this same trapping technique with grapefruit rinds. Place halved and emptied grapefruits upside down in your yard or garden. The citrus will attract the slugs who will crawl inside the grapefruits and you can dispose of them as you like the next morning.

If you still have issues with slugs and snails even after trying these natural techniques, it never hurts to call in for professional help! Contact Glenn Landscape Services and we will help you tackle all your landscape maintenance needs.


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Two species of beetle that are new to Norfolk have been discovered as part of 187 different beetle varieties found at Blakeney National Nature Reserve.

Nine experts found a Rove and a Fungus Beetle as part of a survey on "small, but important wildlife".

They also found 41 lichen species, 24 types of spider and five types of ant.

"We are indebted to these wonderful volunteers," said Stuart Warrington, National Trust nature conservation advisor.

"Without them we just would not know how important Blakeney Point is for insects and other invertebrates," he added.

The full names for the new Norfolk beetles are the Red Data Book Rove Beetle called Phytosus nigriventris and a nationally scarce Fungus Beetle called Leiodes ciliaris.

The survey, which took place in September 2009, also unveiled a Sap Beetle Nitidula carnaria, which had not been recorded in Norfolk since the 19th Century, and the Clown Beetle Gnathoncus nanus with only its second appearance in recent history.

Nationally rare ant species Myrmica specioides were also discovered.

The survey rounded off a successful summer for wildlife at Blakeney Point, famously known for its seals, as its breeding birds had a good season with the Sandwich Tern colony growing to 3100 pairs, up from 2400 pairs in 2008.

Other highlights were the 86 pairs of Little Terns that nested on the Point's shingle beaches and produced 52 fledglings and 13 pairs of Ringed Plover, which raised 12 chicks.

"The success of the terns depends on a whole range of factors including a supply of small fish, good weather and tides, and not too much disturbance," said David Wood, National Trust head warden at Blakeney.

"Last summer's successes were thanks to good conditions, the hard work of staff and volunteers and the understanding and support of visitors and the local community," he added.

Watch the video: Largest Beetle in the World Helicopter

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