Darkling BeetleScientific Species Name: Eleodes and Zophobas spp.
Ecological role: ground-dwelling herbivore/scavenger
Native habitat: North American forests and deserts west of the Mississippi 
Lifespan: apx 1 year
Maximum length: 1 inch
Life Cycle: Complete Metamorphosis

There are over 1000 species of darkling beetles in the United States, but many of them, like these, are found only in the Southwest. These large darkling beetles live in scrubby, arid environments where they feed on vegetation and dead insects. These beetles do not bite or sting, but they are able to secrete a foul-smelling oily substance when threatened.  There is actually more than one species of darkling beetle in the aquarium, but they are all very similar in appearance and they all belong to the same genus. Similar species can be found in Kentucky, but they are a little bit smaller.


Because they are beetles, darkling beetles go through a complete metamorphosis (just like butterflies) with egg, larva, and pupa stages. In the Explorium, we feed the darkling beetles fresh vegetables and fish food. Larvae live in the soil and come to the surface to feed on raw potatoes. If you looking closely, you may be able to see some of the larvae digging through the soil. 

Fish Bait!

These beetles belong to the same scientific family (Tenebrionidae) as the mealworms that are often raised in classrooms and that are used as fish bait. 

Even More About Darkling Beetles

Wikipedia: Darkling Beetles

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