Bess Beetle Click to enlarge image
Bess Beetle, genus Mastachilus Image: David Gray
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Family
    Passalidae
    Order
    Coleoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    30
  • Size Range
    2 cm - 4 cm

Introduction

There are around 30 different species of bess beetles in Australia, and about five occur in the Sydney area.

Habitat

Bess beetles are commonly found in rotting logs, usually in a small colony made up of a number of adults and larvae.

Distribution

Bess beetles are found in eastern Australia.

Feeding and diet

The adult bess beetles prepare the food for the larvae by chewing the wood into a soft pulp, which the larvae can eat.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Adults are commonly attracted to lights. When handled or threatened, bess beetles rub parts of their body together to produce a rasping sound. Most bess beetle species have tiny mites attached to them that are probably parasitic.