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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Ground Beetles


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


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


  • 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


  • In the soil and are rarely seen


  • 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

Interaction With Host
Ground beetles are common in vineyards 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 grape berry moth pupae and other soft-bodied insects.

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

Ground beetle adult Ground beetle adult (caterpillar hunter)Click to enlarge.