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The Diabolical Ironclad beetle Phloeodes diabolicus is a close relative of darkling beetles but is in the completely separate Ironclad family Zopheridae. These are charcoal black and measure about 1/2 to 3/4 inches. They are very cryptic looking beetles with rough and chunky, asphalt-like texture. Their pronotums extend out in almost heart-shaped flanges aside their heads. Recesses below the pronotum provide hiding places for their antennae when they go into death-feigning mode (tonic immobility). When disturbed they sometimes exhibit a tripod like stance that is opposite the normal darkling “head-stander” behavior. These beetles sit on their haunches and extend their front legs like little bulldogs.
Three per customer at this time due to inventory/seasonality.
This beetles can live with the other desert tenebs (family Tenebrionidae including death feigning beetles and darklings of various flavors). They tend to come from slightly more moist habitats than these other beetles but I’ve not noticed that they don’t struggle in my desert tanks. Their cuticle is famously thick and entomologists break their pins trying to pin them and like to tell stories about how their exoskeleton is so tough they can, apparently, survive being run over by a car. In other words, there probably isn’t a lot of water loss for these beetles and giving them a bit of food with moisture in it probably goes a long way to keep them hydrated.
More photos available on Bugguide.
We feed these bits of carrot and dried pet food, though they may also be nibbling at the oak wood/flake soil we offer them. I’ve seen them eat store bought mushrooms.
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