Devil's coach horse ┬ęPaul Richards

Devil's Coach Horse

Scientific name: Staphylinus olens
A ferocious and fast predator, the Devil's Coach Horse 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

Statistics

Length: 2.8cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to October

About

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.

Distribution

Widespread.

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.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.