The group of beetles commonly known as “ground beetles” are widely regarded as beneficial insects due to their habit of preying on insect pests that damage cultivated plants and infest homes. Many species of ground beetles are attracted to lights, and they are often found gravitating around porch lights in large numbers during the morning hours in Texas. As the day progresses, ground beetles found around lights disperse to hunt prey, but occasionally, ground beetles become overabundant in residential yards. When this occurs, ground beetles often enter homes where they become nuisance pests, but they are not known for damaging property and most species do not bite humans. However, given their ability to emit foul odors as a defense mechanism, homes infested with ground beetles can become intolerably smelly.
Beetles belong to the order Coleoptera, which is composed of a quarter of a million documented species worldwide, making Coleoptera the largest insect order. More than 30,000 beetle species from several families can be found in the US. The ground beetle species that are known as occasional nuisance pests within homes are mainly predaceous ground beetles from the family Carabidae, which is made up of more than 2,500 species. Most ground beetle species that are known to appear in Texas homes are black or dark-red in color, but some species are metallic blue, brown and green. Their midsection (thorax) is narrower than their abdomen, and adults have long legs and functional wings.
Ground beetles overwinter outdoors, many of which die during the coldest months. During mild winters, most ground beetles survive, and if a mild winter is followed by a warm and rainy spring, the already abundant ground beetle population will grow even larger, leading to large scale ground beetle invasions into residential areas during the spring and summer seasons. When ground beetles become overabundant, homeowners should take measures to prevent invasions. In order to make homes less attractive to ground beetles, homeowners may want to remove standard white light bulbs from outdoor light fixtures in order to install yellow or sodium vapor bulbs that are not as attractive to ground beetles. All cracks, crevices, and other potential entry points on the exterior walls of homes should be sealed, and yards should be cleared of leaf piles, rotting logs, firewood piles, stones and other objects that ground beetles may hide beneath. Dead beetles should be promptly removed from properties because they emit odors that attract additional beetles. Although rare, ground beetles can become prevalent enough within yards to warrant the professional application of an insecticide barrier around the perimeter of affected homes.
Have you ever struggled to keep ground beetles out of your home?