Reddish Vale Country Park
Coleoptera is an order of insects commonly called beetles. The word "coleoptera" is from Greek words meaning, "sheath"; and, "wing", thus "sheathed wing".
Coleoptera contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms. About 40% of all described insect species are beetles (about 400,000 species worldwide, and new species are discovered frequently. Some estimates put the total number of species, described and undescribed, at as high as 100 million, but 1 million is a more likely figure. The largest taxonomic family, the Curculionidae (the weevils or snout beetles), also belongs to this order.
The diversity of beetles is very wide-ranging. They are found in almost all habitats, but are not known to occur in the sea or in the polar regions. They interact with their ecosystems in several ways. They often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are prey of various animals including birds and mammals. Certain species are agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the boll weevil Anthonomus grandis, the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, and the mungbean or cowpea beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, while other species of beetles are important controls of agricultural pests. For example, beetles in the family Coccinellidae ("ladybirds" or "ladybugs") consume aphids, scale insects, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects that damage crops.
Beetles are generally characterized by a particularly hard exoskeleton and hard forewings (elytra). The beetle's exoskeleton is made up of numerous plates called sclerites, separated by thin sutures. This design provides armored defenses while maintaining flexibility. The general anatomy of a beetle is quite uniform, although specific organs and appendages may vary greatly in appearance and function between the many families in the order. Like all insects, beetles' bodies are divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen.
Besides being abundant and varied, beetles are able to exploit the wide diversity of food sources available in their many habitats. Some are omnivores, eating both plants and animals. Other beetles are highly specialized in their diet. Many species of leaf beetles, longhorn beetles, and weevils are very host-specific, feeding on only a single species of plant. Ground beetles and rove beetles (family Staphylinidae), among others, are primarily carnivorous and will catch and consume many other arthropods and small prey, such as earthworms and snails. While most predatory beetles are generalists, a few species have more specific prey requirements or preferences.
Decaying organic matter is a primary diet for many species. This can range from dung, which is consumed by coprophagous species (such as certain scarab beetles of the family Scarabaeidae), to dead animals, which are eaten by necrophagous species (such as the carrion beetles of the family Silphidae). Some of the beetles found within dung and carrion are in fact predatory.
All images, copyright, Stockport Nature.Com
Click on photos for more
Alder Leaf Beetle
Green Dock Leaf Beetle