Geographical Range Tropical and temperate regions worldwide
Habitat Various habitats, including caves, forests, deserts, agricultural and urban areas
Scientific Name Family: Tenebrionidae
Conservation Status Common

Many of the darkling beetle species and their larvae (called mealworms) are major agricultural pests. They feed on stored grain and are often encountered around livestock feed. They are also decomposers of dead plant material.

Some darkling beetles have an unusual defensive behavior. When they're disturbed, they stand on their heads and run around randomly, earning them the name "clown beetles." But because they also secrete a foul-smelling odor, they're also called -- you guessed it: "stink beetles."

There are some 15,000 (!) species of darkling beetle in the world, and almost all are found in plentiful numbers in their various habitats. At this time, IUCN (an organization that determines species' Conservation Status) lists just three species of darkling beetle: two are considered threatened and another is critically endangered.

Did You Know?

In North America alone, there are at least 1,300 species of darkling beetle. And that's just a fraction of the number of all beetle species in North America: more than 30,000!