Have you ever spotted a beetle and haven’t been able to figure out what kind it is?

Tumbling flower beetle-11Take these black insects, for example. You might not even be sure that they are beetles.

tumbling-flower-beetles-22Fortunately, I was able to key them out using a new book (see below for details). These are tumbling flower beetles, in the Family Mordellidae.

flower-beetle-closeTumbling flower beetles are distinguished by their wedge shape and the fact their elytra (hard wings) do not cover the abdomen.The abdomen is pointed at the end, as well.

They are called “tumbling” because the adults have an odd behavior of awkwardly jumping away from predators that leads them to tumble. The “flower'” part comes from the fact the adults are often seen at flowers feeding on nectar.

Have you ever seen tumbling flower beetles tumble? How would you describe it?


The book I used to identify the insects is Beetles of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans, just published this month.

This book is an extensive desk-top reference for those interested in beetles. Along with the illustrated key to common beetle families, it contains detailed descriptions of 1,406 different species of beetles, each accompanied by a good sized full-color photograph.

In addition to helping with identification, Beetles of Eastern North America is also a fabulous place to start learning about beetles in general. There is an extensive introduction covering anatomy, natural history, where to look for beetles, how to observe and collect them, etc. It is filled with information, even the end paper in the back has a ruler and illustrations of beetles with their parts labelled.

Are you interested in working with beetles? On page 52, Evans discusses how to become involved in beetle research, encouraging students and amateur naturalists to participate in citizen science.

Examples of beetle-related citizen science projects:

Beetles of Eastern North America definitely is worth consideration if you have ever wondered, “What is that beetle?”

Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Princeton University Press (June 8, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0691133042
ISBN-13: 978-0691133041

Disclosures:  This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.