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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Ground Beetles

Carabidae

Ground beetle adult Ground beetle adult
Click to enlarge.

Beginner

Scientific Names
There are 59 species of ground beetles identified from apple orchards in southern Ontario, with Amara aenea (DeGeer), Harpalus affinis (Shrank) and Pterostichus melanarius (III) being the most common.

Identification
Eggs:

  • Deposited singly in or on the soil surface.
  • Small and difficult to see.

Larvae:

  • Elongate and wormlike,
  • Most live in burrows in the soil or in leaf litter or other debris.
  • Larvae have powerful and prominent mandibles, long legs and fairly threadlike antennae.

Pupae

  • In the soil and are rarely seen.

Adults:

  • Elongate, flattened bodies that vary in size from 0.3-8.5 cm.
  • Usually dark brown to black in colour, but may be yellowish or reddish brown with blue green of copper metallic hues.
  • Like larvae, adults have powerful and prominent mandibles, long legs and fairly threadlike antennae.

Often Confused With
N/A

Interaction With Host
Ground beetles are common in tree fruit orchards and other agricultural areas. They are ground dwellers and are found under stones or debris on the soil surface. 

Larvae and adults are nocturnal and predaceous. Some species are phytophagous and feed on seeds, shoots, fruit and pollen of plants.

Period of Activity
They are present throughout the growing season.

Insects Attacked
Prey items within the orchard include apple maggot pupae, codling moth larvae, aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Monitoring and Management
Ground beetles are nocturnal and not usually seen during routine orchard scouting activities. They may be observed by displacing stones, logs and other debris on the orchard floor. Egg laying and pupation occur in the soil. Consequently, conservation of ground beetle populations involves leaving some habitat within the orchard undisturbed.

Advanced

Scientific Names 
There are 59 species of ground beetles identified from apple orchards in southern Ontario, with Amara aenea (DeGeer), Harpalus affinis (Shrank) and Pterostichus melanarius (III) being the most common.

Identification
Eggs: Deposited singly in or on the soil surface. They are small and difficult to see.

Larvae: Larval ground beetles are elongate and wormlike in appearance; most live in burrows in the soil or in leaf litter or other debris. Larval ground beetles have powerful and prominent mandibles, long legs and fairly threadlike antennae.

PupaePupation occurs in the soil and pupae rarely seen.

Adults: Ground beetle adults have elongate, flattened bodies that vary in size from 0.3-8.5 cm. They are usually dark brown to black in colour, but may be yellowish or reddish brown with blue green of copper metallic hues. Like the larvae, they have powerful and prominent mandibles, long legs and fairly threadlike antennae.

Often Confused With
N/A

Interaction With Host
Ground beetles are common in tree fruit orchards and other agricultural areas. They are ground dwellers and are found under stones or debris on the soil surface. Most ground beetles complete a life cycle within a year. Ground beetles overwinter as larvae or adults. Eggs are deposited singly in the soil. Larvae develop in or on the soil, under stones, boards or other debris. Pupation takes place in the soil. Adults are usually nocturnal, and may be attracted to lights. Large numbers of adults are often found in areas where food is abundant.

Larvae and adults are nocturnal and predaceous. Some species are phytophagous and feed on seeds, shoots, fruit and pollen of plants.

Period of Activity
They are present throughout the growing season.

Insects attacked
Prey items within the orchard include apple maggot pupae, codling moth larvae, aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Monitoring and Management
Ground beetles are nocturnal and not usually seen during routine orchard scouting activities. They may be observed by displacing stones, logs and other debris on the orchard floor. Egg laying and pupation occur in the soil. Consequently, conservation of ground beetle populations involves leaving some habitat within the orchard undisturbed. Some researchers use pit fall traps to monitor ground beetle populations, but these are not practical in orchard scouting programs.