Ground beetles are tireless helpers in our garden
We walked through the Kuban forest, spring is in full swing: birds sing, flowers bloom, bugs run. Beautiful beetles - with green and blue iridescent backs. Each gardener, in addition to knowledge about plant agricultural technology, would need to be a little more entomologist. Because, being touched, for example, by a ladybug, it is necessary to count the points on its elytra: 7 points - eats aphids and spider mites, we are moved further. And here are 28 points - you need to quickly take action before she ate potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers (a less specialized analogue of the Colorado potato beetle). Or are these beetles beautiful with iridescent elytra - how to determine which of them is a pest and which gardener is a friend and assistant? An article about them will be, about ground beetles-assistants, and about how to attract them to the garden from the beginning of the season.
What are ground beetles?
Ground beetles are bugs. About how diverse they are, their Russian names say: quick-witted, dingy, runner, scorer, dwarf, flybird, steed, sprayer, sheehead, bearded and, in fact, ground beetles - from hairy to bread. In Russia, more than 3000 species are known now and new ones are regularly discovered.
Caucasian ground beetle
The largest Russian ground beetle - Caucasian, the length of a matchbox and even a little more. Distributed from Anapa to Sochi. Where we live now (the area of the Hot Key) also runs.
At first it was scary when such a thing rushes past, but when I learned that the beetle feeds mainly on gastropods, I was imbued with good feelings for it. Because the grape snails in the first season have suffered enough. Now, in the spring and summer, sometimes in the morning I turn the bugs, somehow finding themselves under a canopy near the porch lying on their backs, and take them closer to the beds. Near the beds usually snail grape.
Beetle larvae also feed on mollusks. Together with bugs, birds, lizards, toads and moles, we brought the populations of grape snails and slugs in the plot to an acceptable number that did not bring noticeable damage.
Crimean ground beetle
Crimean ground beetle inferior to the Caucasian literally 3 mm in size. Also a healthy black-and-blue beetle (there are forms with green, purple color), cleverly popping grape snails. Unlike the Caucasian one, at the time of danger it spews a caustic stinky brown liquid from the end of the abdomen. Maybe a meter and a half and even two shoot. So, if during a vacation in Crimea it catches your eye - you don’t need to be afraid, but also touch it. It is classified as a snail-creeper. Also called a scorer.
These are the largest southern ground beetles. There is still a darkness of smaller varieties.
The smelling beauty
To the south of the Bryansk-Samara-Chelyabinsk line you can see a spectacular beautiful smelling, a rather large (up to 35 mm) beetle with bright golden-blue-green iridescent elytra. In the Moscow region, only one was caught, so it is not clear whether he lives there or escaped from whom.
The beetle runs through the trees, flies well, actively hunts during the day and prefers to feed on caterpillars of butterflies: silkworms, bagpipes, leafworms, etc. It may also make a withered butterfly a hamster. The shaggyness of the caterpillar is not a problem for him - it eats along with the hair. It is good if you look from afar and do not touch, it is smelly if you disturb. It is characterized by increased aggressiveness, seen in cannibalism.
Common or garden ground beetle
Common or garden ground beetle a little less - up to 30 mm. And her coloring is not so catchy, usually black or dark bronze, and she doesn’t eat relatives. Distributed throughout Russia. It catches the eye only if its shelter is discovered - a stone is raised, a board, the grass in which it was hidden was pulled out. Predator night and day eyes gardeners are not callous. Prefers to run rather than fly. With pleasure and many uses slugs, snails, caterpillars, all sorts of larvae, pupae.
Big-headed ground beetle
Bulldog ground beetle, or common golovach grows to 23 mm. It is found in the European part of Russia and in Siberia. Prefers dry places, unlike most of its hygrophilous counterparts. And the soil loves sandy or loose warmed up. Digs minks in the ground, where it hides in the daytime. It also uses dug minks to steal prey.
Their menu is somewhat different from their counterparts - in dry places there are no slugs, or not many. Therefore, beetles eat a lot of insects, larvae, pupae, some crustaceans and even Colorado beetles eat. Moreover, at all stages of development.
Other ground beetles
By the way, Colorado beetles are not only consumed by golovach. Pecilius copper smaller, 13 millimeters, eats eggs and larvae, and does it in the very heat - after lunch and until the evening. Pterostichus vulgaris larger, up to 17 mm, also eats eggs and larvae, but quietly, at night.
Ground beetle too small, up to 11 mm, also not advertised, feeds on eggs and larvae in the evening and at night. This ground beetle, if during the sleep all the insects were poisoned on the site, can beetroot with anger and hunger.
Ground beetle, or Copper carabus – not necessarily copper in color, it is black, green and dark blue. Large, up to 28 mm, eats everyone: from the Colorado potato beetles to the grubs and slugs. He also hunts at night.
All of the listed ground beetles-eaters of the Colorado potato beetle are common in the European part of the country and in Siberia.
The ground beetles described are an example and a small part of what may occur on the site. They may catch the eye of others, no less useful.
Perhaps, of the common Russian ground beetles, only one harmful to agriculture is: ground beetle, or humpbacked peun. Black beetle 15 mm long. Actively harms grain, and, in a family contract: larvae eat stems and leaves, adults eat grain. And all this is secretive at night.
Ground beetles and their children
Ground beetle is an insect with complete transformation, which means it is in 4 species: an egg, a larva, a pupa, an adult beetle (adult). Their mating season is most often in the spring. The female lays from 20 to 80 eggs in a nest dug in the ground. Shallow, 5 centimeters, in a dark, warm and humid place.
Most often, ground beetles on this end take care of the offspring, although there are exceptions when the female guards the nest until the larvae appear and puts plant seeds in the nesting chamber for feeding the larvae for the first time.
After about two to three weeks, fairly large colorless larvae are born. Coloring (beige, black, purple) they get in a day. Or they don’t get it if they live in the topsoil.
In terms of nutrition, the larvae of ground beetles are very diverse: there are those who eat meat, there are omnivores, there are herbivores, and there are mushrooms. There are parasitoids, the first part of their larval life engaged in the search for prey (pupae of beetles) and implantation, and the second - the quiet development inside the victim's cocoon.
There are ground beetle larvae specializing in eating ants, while others with ants are in symbiosis: the ants feed them, and they, like aphids, secrete a delicious liquid for ants. Cannibalism sins most of the larvae.
During growth, the larvae molt three times and may be longer than an adult insect. Further, the larva passes into the pupal stage, at this time it does not feed and already looks like a bug. Some, however, are covered with a cocoon. Well, after molting there will be an adult - an adult insect.
In the middle lane there is, as a rule, one generation per season, in the northern regions development can take place in two years, and in the tropics - twice a year.
The list of food preferences of ground beetles of gardeners and gardeners cannot but please: snails, slugs, larvae and eggs of insects, caterpillars, aphids, ants, beetles of other species, some insects - those who are caught will be eaten. Bears also eat larvae well. Although there is a disappointing point - earthworms.
Ground beetles have developed for themselves a very tricky way of eating, which allows them to eat a healthy slug without opening their mouth wide for swallowing and without biting off small pieces. The most important thing is to catch the victim. For this, the beetle has fast legs and strong mandibles, with which he grabs the victim. If the victim is not very large - drag to a secluded place. But the slugs and snails will not run away from him!
Instead of saliva, a special liquid is released in the beetle containing paralyzing components and digestive enzymes. The beetle sprinkles the victim (or squirts inside), it immobilizes and begins to turn into something semi-liquid that the beetle is quite able to swallow. The sight is not for the faint of heart. After eating, the beetle goes to rest in a secluded place so that the food is assimilated in a calm state.
The difficult life of ground beetles
There are so many ground beetles and they are so diverse that you can meet them everywhere - from the tundra to the desert. And how many of them are in the tropics! Beetles prefer to equip their own housing in forest litter, upper loose soil layers, under heaps of rubbish, under stones, in rotten stumps and trees, in the bark of old trees, they settle in moleholes and shrews.
That is, they populate precisely those places that gardeners are inclined to decisively change at their discretion: they rake foliage, dig up the soil, throw out or burn everything rotten, remove garbage, whitewash the trees and fill the water with moles. Then they complain to the neighbors about the abundance of pests and carry out eradicating sprayings.
Not only that, a huge army of collectors prowls in the fields and forests, picking ground beetles from their shelters, since the prices for collection ground beetles are very good. In addition, it has become fashionable to keep bugs, including ground beetles, in home terrariums.
And there are still natural enemies - lizards, birds, hungry moles, hedgehogs, their fellow cannibals. Eggs, in general, strive to pluck and eat many, starting with ants and ending, again, with brothers. And the larvae have a lot of enemies.
In the Red Book of Russia there are already 15 species of ground beetles, of the described - Caucasian and fragrant odorant.
How to attract ground beetles to your garden?
If there is nothing to eat in the garden (it is sterile), ground beetles will not go there. Fortunately, there are still few such gardens. The topic is suitable for those who, within reason, use insecticides and herbicides (ground beetles will tolerate fungicides), or do not use at all.
But if they manage to lure different ground beetles into their garden, they will take on a significant part of the pest eradication efforts. In spring, it's time to attract the bugs, and they will reproduce themselves, just in April-May-June, depending on the region.
To create conditions for them to live and reproduce, it is advisable to find moist, rarely visited corners in the garden and provide conditions: leave fallen leaves or lay heaps of pebbles.
We have ground beetles settled down in several places. We live near the river, there are a lot of stones, all flowerbeds of roses, I limit the trunk circles of trees to stones. Snails sit under part of the stones, ground beetles under the other.
The beds are fenced with wooden sides and on the inside, under the mulch, you can almost always find some ground beetle. Mulch, I noticed, they especially love, it is dark, warm, humid and loose there. And in general, fenced beds were attractive to beetles - from the outside, near the side, they also often settle. Still love a compost heap. Under the canopy, where the firewood lies, they also meet in the evenings. There, apparently, less hygrophilous species live.
Before settling in the garden by ground beetles, it is very good to carry out explanatory work with relatives - so as not to get scared, they would not step on a swing with a shoe. Well, he runs to himself, and let him run! Trying for us ...