Equipped with chewing mouthparts, beetles are capable of eating almost any organism, living or dead, including funguses, plants, and animals, especially other insects. They also eat animal waste. Numerous fungus feeders attack mushrooms and their relatives, while others eat molds and yeasts mixed with plant sap. Plant-feeding beetles eat leaves, flowers, pollen, nectar, fruits, and seeds. Many species feed inside plant tissues and bore through all parts of plants. Wood-boring beetles are unable to digest wood and must rely on bacteria, yeasts, and funguses living in their digestive systems to break it down. A few species eat the skin, dried blood, and other skin secretions of rodents. Carrion and burying beetles, hide beetles, and others scavenge dead animal tissue. Skin beetles prefer to eat feathers, fur, horns, and hooves. Dung beetles bury large amounts of animal waste for use as food for their larvae. They use their membrane-like jaws to strain out bits of undigested food, bacteria, yeasts, and molds from the waste as food for themselves. Some dung beetles prefer to eat dead animals, funguses, fruit, dead millipedes, or the slime tracks of snails.

Carnivorous beetle larvae feed mainly on liquids and produce digestive chemicals that turn their prey into "soup." This kind of digestion also occurs in some adult ground and rove beetles.

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