Common name: Ground beetle
Order: Coleoptera Family: Carabidae
Ground beetles belong to the family Carabidae, a large group of at least 25,000 – 50,000 species worldwide. In New Zealand there at least 400 species, with many more to be described. Of these, 19 species belong to the genus Ctenognathus, and these are found most commonly in the North Island of New Zealand. Ground beetles in New Zealand have a very high level of endemism (over 90%), meaning they are found nowhere else in the world.
Ground beetles are shiny black in colour and most species look very similar making it hard to tell apart when looking at external appearance alone. Very little is known about their behaviour and ecology, but most ground beetles are nocturnal and hide during the day under or inside dead wood, bark, leaf litter or rocks. At night they come out of their hiding spots, where they can run quickly hunting other insects and using their large jaws to eat them.
They are not harmful but can deliver a slightly painful bite if handled. Like most ground beetles, they can produce noxious smells that are used as defence chemicals against predators such as birds and rats.