The Coleoptera, or beetles, play a key role in terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. 

Copris fallaciosus, Kenyan dung beetle

Copris fallaciosus, Kenyan dung beetle

With around 400,000 described species, the Coleoptera, or beetles, are among the largest groups of organisms on the planet. 

Part of the reason for this huge number of described taxa is their popularity among amateur and professional entomologists.


Coleoptera have a holometabolous life-cycle (complete metamorphosis), the larvae either free living or burrowing in a wide range of substrates.

These can include:

  • soil
  • dead wood
  • living plants
Pseudaplemonus limonii (Kirby), weevil
Coleoptera research

Find out about our research into the evolution and diversity of the Coleoptera.

About the name

The name Coleoptera comes from the Greek for “sheath wings”, because the front pair of wings, known as elytra, are hardened to protect the membranous flight wing beneath. 

Noble Chafer
Coleoptera collection

Learn more about the coleoptera collections, which are among the oldest, largest and most important in the world.