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any member of over 30,000 insect species in one of the largest families in the insect order Coleoptera. They can be found in almost any terrestrial habitat on Earth. Ground beetles are recognized by their long legs and shiny black or brown elytra (wing covers), which are decorated with ridges and may be fused together along the midline. In many species the hind wings are reduced or absent. Ground beetles prefer moist cool areas and usually run rather than fly when disturbed. They emerge from under rocks, crevices, or litter at night in search of insects, worms, or snails. The long, slender larvae are mostly carnivorous, although those of a few species feed on seeds. They have sharp projecting mouthparts and a pair of bristly tail appendages. Many ground beetles secrete a foul-smelling liquid that discourages potential predators such as birds.