Toxic beetles, weird pets, and unusual foods

Eleanor Konik

Eleanor Konik

Professionally, I teach pre-teens about ancient civilizations. In my downtime, I enjoy combining storytelling with my love of sharing obscure history and science.


A friend recommended a BYU lecture by Mary Robinette Kowal about writing flash fiction. The story I came up with while working through the exercises included a magical infestation of toxic beetles... which of course required me to learn about beetles and their toxins.

Fun Facts

  • The common firefly is a beetle, not a fly.
  • Native Australian beetles couldn't break down cow dung, so Australians had to import Egyptian dung beetles.
  • Ladybugs fly as high as 3600 ft -—  about 1/10th as high as most commercial planes.
  • Larval beetles are the world's most popular insect to eat as food.
  • Goliath beetles are popular pets in Japan, where they're sometimes sold from vending machines.

Blister Beetles

Horses that eat alfalfa hay contaminated by blister beetles can literally die from gastrointestinal complications. They damage alfalfa, beet, potato, tomato, and other crops by defoliation and wind up getting baled in with the crop. [Read More]

Rove Beetles

The toxins secreted by rove beetles are more potent than cobra venom; eating them can cause severe internal damage. The toxins help protect the beetles from spiders. [Read More]

Not Roaches

Unlike roaches, beetles fold their wings under the wing cases that extend out from their exoskeletons. They also have hard wings instead of leathery ones. [Read More]

So Many!

One out of every four animals on Earth is a beetle. They live basically everywhere on the planet that isn't made of saltwater. [Read More]

If you enjoyed this article, check out my newsletter about fungus.


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