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Fireflies are 5 to 25 mm long. The head is hidden beneath a flattened pronotum, which is part of the thorax.

The soft elytra are normally brown or black, frequently with yellow or orange markings. There is a second pair of wings beneath the elytra. The females of many species are wingless or have very short wings.

The final two or three segments at the tip of the abdomen are generally luminous. They are a lighter shade. Depending on the species, both males and females or just one of the two sexes emits light.

Females are usually slightly larger than males.

Long-horned beetles


These insects have long, cylindrical bodies, and antennae at least half as long as their bodies. This characteristic earned them their common name. The base of the antennae is often partly surrounded by the insect’s eyes. Many species are brightly coloured.

Worldwide, they vary in length from 0.2 to 15 cm. In North America, the largest specimens measure 6 cm.

Scarab beetles


These typically stout, broad beetles have an elongated or oval shaped body, and come in a variety of colours. Their antennae are clubbed and tipped with leaf-like plates called lamellae, which can be drawn into a compact ball.

Asian lady beetle

Harmonia axyridis

Asian lady beetles are between 4.8 and 7.5 mm long. Their elytra, covering a pair of membranous wings, occur in different shades ranging from yellow, orange and red to black and have anywhere from 0 to 20 spots. In Canada, the most common form is orange with 19 black spots.

The pronotum, which covers the front of the thorax just behind the head, has two football-shaped pale eye spots.

Lady beetles


Members of this beetle family are recognized for their characteristic dome shape. Brightly coloured for the most part, lady beetles have black spots when their wing covers are yellow, orange or red, and yellow or orange spots when their wings are black. The short antennae have little knobs on the end.

Lady beetle larvae are usually elongate and have brightly coloured spots or bands as well as spines and tubercles. Some larvae have been described as resembling tiny alligators.

Leaf beetles


Most leaf beetles are small – less than 1.2 cm long – but a few species can reach 2 cm. Their elytra (hardened wings) are often smooth and shiny, but occasionally have distinctive shapes or may be either ridged or pitted. They come in a variety of colours.

The legs are a distinguishing characteristic of these insects: the final heart-shaped segment, just before the claw, is bilobed. This segment is covered with special hairs that allow the beetles to walk along waxy stems and leaves.

Jewel beetles


The elytra (hardened wings) of these beetles often have a smooth glossy surface with a metallic sheen. The brilliant colours range from green to red, blue and yellow, with some species displaying combinations of colours.

Members of this family are recognizable by their torpedo-shaped bodies and heads that partially retract into the prothorax, making it look as though they are wearing a turtleneck.

Yellow mealworms

Tenebrio molitor

Adult yellow mealworms are shiny, sturdy, dark brown to black beetles and measure around 16 mm (14–18 mm) in length. They are the biggest insect pests to infest whole and ground grains. Males are usually smaller and slimmer than females.

Sap beetles


These little insects are 1.5 to 12 mm long, with an oval but sometimes almost square or rectangular shape. The body is often somewhat flattened and shiny. Their colour varies from brown to black with irregular yellow-orange, yellowish or red marking.

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