Beetles all have a pair of compund eyes, which can vary in shape and size from species to species. They also have a pair of antennae in many shapes and lengths. The vast majority of beetles have two pairs of wings. In all cases, the forewings have become hardened, or sclerotised, to form a protective cover over the hindwings, which are membranous and used for flying. When at rest, the hindwings are tucked under the forewings to reduce the risk of damage. In some flightless species, the hindwings have disappeared and the forewings have become fused together to act as body armour.
Collectively, Coleoptera eat just about anything as larvae and adults - leaves, wood, carrion, dung, fungi, nectar, seeds, each other and other insects. For this function, they all have mandibulate (chewing) mouthparts.
Beetles undergo complete metamorphosis. The larvae hatch from eggs and develop in 3 to 5 stages, called instars, which involves moulting at each stage. At the end of the final instar, they pupate, eventually emerging as fully-developed adults. The devlopment from larvae to adult can take as long as several years.
Nature has an incredible imagination and beetles are prime examples. The variety of shapes, sizes and colours is staggering and at times breathtaking. I don't think any photo can truly do them justice, but I've tried to do my best to capture what I saw. You should have seen the ones that got away!
Special thanks to coleopterist Boris Buche from Germany, and biologist and author, Dr. Trevor Hawkeswood, and Justin Bartlett from DPI, who have been kind enough to assist with many of my beetle identifications. See the Acknowledgements & Links page for details of their sites.
Thanks also to Allen Sundholm for his invaluable assistance and advice, especially with regard to the Jewel Beetles (Buprestidae).
And a big thank you to Tom Weir, former curator of the CSIRO's Australian National Insect Collection, Canberra, for offering new and corrected identifications for some of the beetles in my collection.
Click on an image below to see the beetles of Australia.