Ironclad beetles belong to a small family of beetles that contains about 20 species. These beetles are found mostly in western and southwestern United States. They venture down into Mexico, and one species is found on shelf fungus in the New England states.
Ironclad beetles range in size from about ½ to 1 1/4 inches in length. Some of the species are entirely black, while others are strikingly marked with white and black patterns. These patterns serve to camouflage them on the trunks of trees.
These beetles are unique in that they have no hind wings and their elytra (front wings) are fused together. Because of this, they cannot fly and must crawl from place to place.
Although they cannot fly, they earn their name by being very tough. Their sturdy outer shell protects them from both predators and children who attempt to harass them. Though they do have another line of defense –
This group of beetles have not been studied thoroughly and very little is known about their biology and habits. Immature forms have been collected from dead wood of pecan and oak trees. The beetles have not been found to damage living trees, or any other plants. The adults may feed on lichens growing on dead wood. Adults appear in midsummer. They may be found crawling slowly on tree trunks, posts, patio floors, sidewalks, and up walls.
Ironclads are very slow moving and will fane death (roll over and play dead) when disturbed.