Conservation Status

Seventy-two species of beetles are listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Of these, seventeen are listed as Extinct, ten as Critically Endangered, fifteen as Endangered, twenty-seven as Vulnerable, and three as Near Threatened. Extinct means no longer living. Critically Endangered means a species is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Endangered means the species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. Vulnerable means facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, and Near Threatened means likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future. Individual countries also list these and other species as threatened, endangered, or extinct. For example, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service lists four species as Threatened, or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, and twelve as Endangered, or in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of range.

State and provincial governments throughout the world have also enacted laws that prohibit the collection, trading, and export of their listed species. All beetles, especially those living in small, specialized habitats, are threatened by habitat loss due to fire, development, electric lights, overgrazing, agricultural expansion, damming of rivers and streams, logging, persistent adverse weather, off-road recreational vehicles, and the introduction of exotic species.

TAKE A BEETLE TO LUNCH

Some beetles are an important source of protein and fat. In the South Pacific grubs of the palm weevils are roasted and eaten with great delight. The Chinese fry large water beetles in oil or soak them in salty water. The Aborigines of Australia eat nut-flavored wood-boring grubs after roasting them like marshmallows over a fire. In the United States the larvae of the common mealworm is put inside of lollipops as a curiosity.

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