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A Guide to beetles attracted to light

An interesting array of beetle fauna can be found using light trapping methods, with some species only being recorded this way.  This guide hopes to point people new to beetles in the correct direction for identification purposes and if required, list the relevant ID features required in a photo for a definitive determination. Some species will still require microscopic examination for species-level identification, but this guide hopes to, at the very least streamline that process.

This guide builds on the moth trap intruders information produced by Martin Harvey, whom I would like to thank for his support and the extensive use of his guides which have helped me generate

This list of species documented in moth traps. 

This is by no means complete and will be added to on the provision of relevant literature

I'd also like to thank everyone from the Moth Trap Intruders Uk Facebook page, who have allowed me to use their images.

Taking Photos

As a general rule, for beetles an ideal image will include:

  • Dorsal shot on flat surface

  • Antennae and legs

  • Reference of size or an accurate measurement

  • Underside shot (especially in water beetles)

Beetles, like moths, can be chilled for short periods to slow them down to take a photo with no ill effects.

Beetle overview by shape 

With over 4000 species of beetle in over 100 different families learning beetle taxonomy is not a ‘quick’ exercise.


To remedy this, this guide has been arranged in sections of the overall shape of the beetles themselves.

This is still a work in process, and I am planning to continue updating this guide however most of the common suspects have been covered. 

Missing something? Let me know


Click on the icon that matches your beetle shape best to go to the correct section.

Disclaimer: This will group unrelated species together in an attempt to save time.

Thread like antennae

General rounded beetle shape

Wing cases covering all of abdomen

Pronotum as (or nearly as) wide as wingcases


Thread like antennae

pronotum thinner than wingcases

Wing cases not covering all of abdomen

Squared off wingcases


Variety of antenna shapes 

Long pointed oval shape

Continuous edge from head to end of wingcases


Group C

Thread like antennae

Long thin body shape

Short wingcases exposing most of the abdomen


Thread like antennae

General oval shape

Strongly tapered hind legs


Thread like antennae

head base looking 'cut off'

Long thin Oval shape

Long legs 

Spike at rear 

wedge shaped in cross view


clubbed antennae formed of flat plates

Dumpy shape

jagged irregular shape to tibiae edges


Thread like or serrate antennae

long, almost rectanguar appearance

thin leathery wing cases

often brightly coloured


Thick, widened at end medium length antennae

long oval shaped 

Wing cases covering all of abdomen

no spike at rear


Long thread like antennae

rectangular shaped head with bulging eyes

Wing cases covering all of abdomen, but may have a split at ends


Group K

Medium length clubbed or threadlike antennae

Very rounded oval or circular shape

Patterned wingcases covering all of abdomen

may have heart shaped tarsal segments


Elbowed antennae with club

Long rostrum protruding from between the eyes 

may have heart shaped leg segments

Typically oval shaped body


Group L

Clubbed or bead like antennae 

Black and/or orange in colour

medium to large beetles

rounded pronotum

some abdominal segments protruding from wing cases


Long antennae with a smaller second antennal segment

Generapointed shape to wing cases

Wing cases covering abdomen


5-7  threadlike antennae with stretched segmented like antennae

Pointed face

Wing cases meeting in an 'X' shape

Often a large triangle at top of wingcases (Scutellum)


Pronotum rounded and clearly thinner than wing cases

Long threadlike antennae 

May be strongly marked 


Group N



Large black rounded beetles 

May heave a blue/ violet sheen

Strong digging legs 

Rounded shape 


Group I

Medium sized

shovel shaped head

Parallel sides

Strong digging legs


brown black or red

Clubbed Antennae


Group I

Round clubbed antennae

Clearly marked orange and brown elytra


Small size 


Medium to Large sized

Light brown to orange elytra  

Antennae consisting of a series of plates 


Clearly ridged

Wing cases


Group I

Thin waist 

Ridged wingcases

Shiny and black

Small sized

Oak leaf shaped front legs 

Thread like antennae


Large beetles

Obvious mandibles (may be very large in males)  

Dull black to mahogany coloured wing cases


rectangular shaped head

lesser stag beetle

Group I

Small sized

Cylindrical shaped

hooded in appearance 

clubbed antennae

Head tucked under



Fits nothing else? 

Try here for a 

Wild Card 

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