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Wicklow Mountains National Park


There are thousands of species of beetle in Ireland, and while most of them share the same basic shape (six legs and a rounded shiny body with hard wing cases), they have different mouthparts and cover a range of different life styles. Ground beetles, rove beetles, soldier beetles, longhorn beetles, click beetles, water beetles, tiger beetles, ladybirds, weevils, chafers, and many more, are all found in the Park. A few of the interesting beetles that may be encountered in the Park are described here.

DOR BEETLE (Geotrupes stercorosus)

This large beetle can be easily recognised by its shiny metallic blue undersides. It is often encountered in Glendalough in the summer months as it lumbers along the paths. Often two are met together - one slightly larger than the other. These are a pair looking for a nice juicy animal dropping - Dor beetles are also known as Dung beetles. In summer a pair roll a ball of animal dung to a suitable site where they bury it. They then lay their eggs upon it, and when the eggs hatch, the little beetle larvae feast on the dung, safe underground. It may sound a bit disgusting, but without dung beetles (and other decomposers), this world would be a far less pleasant place. The adult beetles have a more refined palate - they eat rotting fungi.

VIOLET GROUND BEETLE (Carabus violaceus)

There are many different species of Ground beetle. All are similar, with black shiny bodies. The Violet Ground beetle is one of the larger ones and has a shiny purple edge to its black body. All the Ground beetles live under stones and similar places. They are fierce predators - hence their long fast legs and big jaws. These jaws can easily be seen if you look closely. They like to eat other bugs - a nice juicy slug would go down well!

SOLDIER BEETLE (Cantharis rustica)

This colourful beetle is very common in summer, feeding on pollen and nectar in flowers and grasses. They are called Soldier beetles because their colourful appearance is reminiscent of the old colourful soldiers' uniforms of bygone days. The beetles like to fly - if you put one on your hand it will invariably run up to the highest point and then spread its wings and take off.

WASP BEETLE (Clytus arietis)

This pretty beetle can be found occasionally between May and July. It mimics wasps, in the hope that other creatures will leave it alone, but in fact it is quite harmless. The beetle feeds on flowers, but it lays its eggs in dead wood. The larvae feed on the decaying wood, thereby helping to break it down. One advantage of National Parks and other protected areas is that dead wood is not 'tidied up'. Many decomposer bugs feed on rotting wood, and if we are too tidy many bug species can find themselves without a food source.