Devil's coach horse

  • Scientific name: Ocypus olens
  • Type: Insects

Key information

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 they eat:

Fly larvae, insects, spiders and slugs.


about 25 mm

Identifying features:

Natural habitats: Compost heap Flower border Hedge Herb garden Meadow area Rock/stone pile Woodland area

Where and when to see them

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

Spring, summer and autumn.

  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec