Beetles ID



    Beetles are a popular group to study and make up the largest insect order (Coleoptera) in the UK with over 4,000 species. Approximately 2,000 of these can be found in Leicestershire and Rutland making beetles far and away the largest group.


    Leicestershire and Rutland (VC55) has a long and distinguished history of beetle recording (see the Leicestershire Coleopterists above). The late Derek Lott continued this excellent work and was recognised as an international expert, particularly for the Staphylinidae family. The VC55 County Coordinator for beetles is currently Graham Finch.

    As with all records, any submissions you make to NatureSpot will be automatically forwarded to both local and national recording schemes.

    ID Tips

    As with most invertebrate groups, identification isn't always straightforward. There are so many beetle species that inevitably there are lots of similar ones so it is often necessary to use a key whilst examining the specimen. Use the Red/Amber/Green ratings as a guide and where provided follow the 'recording advice' text.

    Leicestershire and Rutland resources

    Checklist of the beetles of VC55  - Graham Finch (updated to the end of 2020)

    Scarce VC55 Beetles part 1 - Graham Finch

    Scarce VC55 Beetles part 2 - Graham Finch

    VC55 Cerambycidae Atlas - Graham Finch

    VC55 Coccinellidae Atlas - Graham Finch (updated to the end of 2020)

    Leicestershire Red Data Book Beetles (Derek Lott 1985)

    Leicestershire Coleoptera Recording Scheme newsletter #1 (Feb 1984)

    Leicestershire Coleoptera Recording Scheme newsletter #2 (Mar 1985)

    Leicestershire Coleoptera Recording Scheme newsletter #3 (Apr1986)

    Leicestershire Coleoptera Recording Scheme newsletter #4 (Dec 2018)

    Leicestershire Coleoptera Recording Scheme newsletter #5 (Apr 2020)

    Leicestershire Coleoptera Recording Scheme newsletter #6 (Jan 2021)



    Video: An Introduction to UK Ground Beetles, including a presentation, quiz and question and answer session - Chris Foster, Ground Beetle Recording Scheme

    Mike's insect keys - an excellent resource listing free online keys to many beetle families.

    Weevil keys - photographic guide to UK weevils

    Larger water beetles - a Dutch key but with very useful photos

    Soldier beetles - illustrated guide to UK species


    The Royal Entomological Society has produced keys to many insect groups including numerous families of beetles. The more modern publications tend to have a mixture of photographs and line drawings, older versions line drawings alone. Electronic versions of out-of-print volumes can be downloaded for free from the link on the page.

    The Coleopterist - the leading journal for students of the beetle fauna of the British Isles.

    Other useful websites and publications


    Watford Coleopterist Group - a very useful gallery with quality photos (of mounted specimens) and some good ID guides.

    Beetles of Germany - wonderful site with top class images. Many of the species are the same as those found in the UK.

    The Ground Beetles of Ireland - great photos of live beetles. Has a photographic key.

    Mark Telfer's Beetles - very useful guide to studying beetles with test keys for carabids and staphylinids.

    UK Beetle Recording - a comprehensive site about UK beetles. Has over 700 beetle photos though layout is not easy to use for finding a look-alike.

    UK beetle checklist - free download

    John Walters illustrated ID guides - a series of excellent downloadable leaflets - most free.

    European Carabidae - excellent site with comprehensive gallery of high quality images. Has a great function to allow comparison of selected species.

    Ladybird larvae - photo id pdf from the Ladybird Survey.

    Beetle News - free, downloadable newsletter, most issues include excellent guides to a beetle group.

    Dung beetle pictorial guide


    Note: To source some of the more obscure beetle books you need to look beyond Amazon. Pemberley Books and NHBS are worth checking out.

    Longhorn Beetles - an excellent 2 part identification guide published in British Wildlife Part 1:18:406-14, Aug 2007, Part 2: 19:35-43, Oct 07.

    The Leicestershire Coleopterists, Derek Lott. A fascinating account of 200 years of beetle hunting in the County.

    Beetles of the Czech and Slovak Republics, Karel Hurka - very good general overview with quality colour plates. Many beetles overlap with British the fauna

    Beetles of Britain and Ireland by Andrew G. Duff. A new series planned to cover the British and Irish Coleoptera in four volumes.  Intended to be the first comprehensive account since Joy (1932).