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Devil's coach horse

Insect

Staphylinus olens

The Devil’s coach horse is a long, black beetle with short elytra (wing cases). At first glance you could mistake it for an earwig.

A nocturnal predator, this beetle lives in and around decaying matter. During the day it tends to rest among leaf litter or under stones. Females lay their eggs in the soil, and these hatch into carnivorous larvae.

It overwinters as a pupa in leaf litter or moss and emerges as an adult the following spring. If you disturb a Devil’s coach horse, it adopts an aggressive, scorpion-like position - it raises its rear end and opens its powerful jaws.

If it still feels threatened it squirts a foul-smelling fluid from its abdomen. Beware – this beetle can also give a painful bite.

What does it eat?

Fly larvae, insects, spiders and slugs.

When will I see it?

Spring, summer and autumn.

Where will I see it?

Throughout the garden. Sometimes in damp outhouses. Also in parks, hedgerows, meadows and woods.