Beetles comprise the most diverse group of organisms in the world. Approximately one of every four species (including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi) that has been described is a type of beetle. As might be expected in such a large group, beetles are quite diverse in color, shape, and ecological role.
Thus far, most of the Xerces Society’s conservation work on beetles has focused on fireflies and tiger beetles:
- Fireflies are some of our most celebrated insects. Not only are they important components of natural ecosystems, but also they have immense cultural, biological, and economic value. Despite their significance, firefly populations appear to be in decline. While long-term monitoring studies of fireflies in the U.S. and Canada are sparse, a growing number of anecdotal reports, backed by expert opinion, suggest that fireflies are indeed declining. This concern gains greater significance in light of numerous diversity and abundance studies that have emerged in recent years documenting severe population declines in both better-studied insect groups and overall insect biomass. We need to study firefly populations more closely to fully understand their plight and ensure conservation efforts are effective.
- Tiger beetles are speedy, often colorful, and voracious predators. Many live in the sandy soils of stream banks and are highly susceptible to changes in their environment. These insects can be excellent indicators of the overall health of an ecosystem, as they may be one of the first animals to decline with habitat changes. According to NatureServe, tiger beetles are one of the most endangered groups of insects—second only to stoneflies. Approximately 19% of all tiger beetles are either vulnerable to extinction, imperiled, or extinct.
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