Domino beetle (Anthia duodecimguttata)

Domino beetle
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Domino beetle fact file

Domino beetle description

GenusAnthia (1)

The domino beetle (Anthia duodecimguttata) is a member of the Carabidae family, an insect group which contains an impressive 40,000 species worldwide (2). It is a striking black beetle, with a distinctive pattern of ten white spots along the back, appearing much like the dots on a domino piece and hence giving this remarkable little beetle its common name (3).


Domino beetle biology

All beetles are characterised by a tough, inflexible pair of modified forewings called elytra, which meet along the centre of the body and cover the membranous hind wings. The domino beetle is a ground beetle and although the elytra are still present, they are no longer adapted for flight. Instead, the domino beetle has developed long, slender legs for speed, and excellent vision for hunting its prey on the ground. All beetles also have sense organs which are concentrated in the head region, while tiny, vibration-sensitive hairs cover the entire body (5).    

The flightless ground beetles of the genus Anthia have an unusual defence mechanism. These beetles are able to squirt out jets of formic acid when they feel threatened, causing burns to the skin (5) and producing an extremely unpleasant smell to deter potential predators (6).

The domino beetle generally remains hidden in the day and becomes active at night (3) (6). It preys on many different invertebrates including beetles, woodlice, worms, caterpillars and other small arthropods (6). Mating takes place after the rainy season (3).


Domino beetle range

The domino beetle is fairly common throughout Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen (2) (4).


Domino beetle habitat

The domino beetle typically inhabits desert scrubland and gravel plains around the edges of sandy deserts and mountains (3).


Domino beetle status

The domino beetle has yet to be classified by the IUCN.


Domino beetle threats

There are currently no known threats to the domino beetle.


Domino beetle conservation

There are no known conservation measures which specifically target the domino beetle.

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A very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
In beetles and earwigs, the hard forewings. They are held aloft when the insect flies, and are often coloured or patterned.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.


  1. UNEP-WCMC (January, 2011)
  2. Sadeghi, H., Saadi, H. and Felix, R. (2011) Ground and tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) from Kerman and Khorasan provinces of Iran. Munis Entymology and Zoology, 6(1): 186-193.  
  3. Emirates Philatelic Association: Arthropods (Insects) of the United Arab Emirates (January, 2011)
  4. Ghahari, H., Avgin, S.S. and Ostovan, H. (2010) Carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) collected from different ecosystems in Iran with new records. Türkiye Entomoloji Dergisi, 34(2):179-195.
  5. O'Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Walker, D.H. and Pittaway, A.R. (1987) Insects of Eastern Arabia. Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London. Available at:

Image credit

Domino beetle  
Domino beetle

© Richard Hornby

Richard Hornby
P.O. Box 41922
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates


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