Devil's Coach Horse

Staphylinus olens

  1. Wildlife
  2. Invertebrates
  3. Beetles
  4. Devil's Coach Horse

About

The Devil's Coach Horse is a common beetle of gardens, and can often be found under stones and in compost heaps. It is also common along hedgerows and in grassland. Devil's Coach Horses are voracious predators, emerging after dark to prey on other invertebrates, and using their pincer-like jaws to crush them. They are fast-moving, preferring to run along the ground rather than fly, and are well-known for curling up their abdomens like the tail of a scorpion when defending themselves. They can also emit a foul-smelling substance from their abdomens when threatened. Females lay their eggs in soil, the larvae hatching into predators themselves. The larvae spend the winter as pupae and emerge the following spring as adults.

How to identify

The Devil's Coach Horse is an all-black, medium-sized beetle with large jaws and a tail that it holds cocked in a characteristic position.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Many of our commonly overlooked insects are actually important pest controllers in the garden. Minibeasts can be encouraged by the provision of logs, stone piles and compost heaps for them to hide, feed and breed in. In turn, other species will be attracted to the garden, as minibeasts are a food source for many animals, including mammals, birds and amphibians, providing a vital link in the food chain. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Devil's Coach Horse
Latin name
Staphylinus olens
Category
Invertebrates
Beetles
Statistics
Length: 2.8cm
Conservation status
Common.