Rove beetles (family Staphylinidae) are a diverse group of beetles with elongated bodies, typically black or dark brown. They possess prominent forward projecting chewing mouthparts that are adapted for consuming other insects and small invertebrates. While they may resemble earwigs in shape, rove beetles lack caudal pincers.
In contrast to many beetles, rove beetles have abbreviated wing covers that expose a significant portion of their abdomen. They range in size, spanning from a few millimeters to several centimeters.
Rove beetles are highly beneficial natural predators known for their aggressive feeding behavior. They exhibit voracious appetites, targeting agricultural pests such as aphids, mites, caterpillars, weevils, and other soft bodied insect larvae.
Green peach aphid
Redlegged earth mite
Some agriculturally important species, such as the Dalotia rove beetle, can be bought commercially.
Rove beetles contribute to pest management in various agricultural landscapes across Australia, including grain fields, orchards, vineyards, and vegetable crops. Thriving in moist habitats associated with soil or decaying organic matter, they are particularly valuable in areas with soil saturation or standing water.
Rove beetles can be found under debris or rocks, in compost piles, or crawling on plants. Some agriculturally significant species, like the Dalotia rove beetle, inhabit the upper layers of soil and can establish in different growing media such as compost, potting mixes, coconut coir, and rock wool.
These beetles are very resilient and can cope with a wide range of conditions. However, excessive use of pesticides can be detrimental to rove beetle populations and their effectiveness as biological control agents. Consider adopting integrated pest management (IPM) practices, which involve using pesticides judiciously and as a last resort. Targeted application of pesticides, avoiding broad-spectrum ones, and selecting insecticides that have minimal impact on non-target organisms can help preserve rove beetle populations.
Creating diverse habitats with hedgerows, cover crops, brushpiles and wildflower strips can support generalist predator population, by providing additional food sources, nesting sites, and protection from pesticide exposure or extreme weather conditions.
Breeding boxes have shown promise in enhancing rove beetle performance in hydroponic, ornamentals and floriculture overseas, however this approach is not yet widely practiced in Australia.
While rove beetles offer numerous benefits, their impact can vary depending on local species composition, farm management practices, and regional factors.