Devil's coach horse

Devil's Coach Horse

Devil's Coach Horse ©Russ Cribb

Devil's coach horse

Devil's coach horse ©Paul Richards

Devil's coach horse

Scientific name: Staphylinus olens
A ferocious and fast predator, the Devil's coach horse beetle hunts invertebrates after dark in gardens and on grasslands. It is well-known for curling up its abdomen like the tail of a scorpion when defending itself.

Species information


Length: 2.8cm

Conservation status


When to see

April to October


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. They are well-known for curling up their abdomens like the tail of a scorpion when threatened, and emitting a foul-smelling substance from their abdomens. Beware - they can also deliver a painful bite to us! Females lay their eggs in soil; the predatory larvae hatch and spend the winter as pupae, emerging 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, scorpion-like position.



Did you know?

The Devil's coach horse is a member of the rove beetle family, of which there are more than 1,000 species in the UK. Rove beetles are one of the most diverse families of animals on the planet: there are at least 46,000 species described so far, and many more still to be discovered.

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Red squirrel

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