This book is a visual feast of beetles; its purpose is to introduce some amazing creatures who, for the most part, lead their lives and go about their business unseen. Due to their diminutive size, the majority of beetles fly under the radar of human notice. The immature phases of their life cycles are spent hidden in the soil or within layers of tree bark or in the roots of plants. The adult portion of their lives is usually brief, confined to a single season.

The order of Coleoptera, the beetles, has evolved over 230 million years. Shaping themselves to fit every conceivable climate and landscape on earth, they have developed a phantasmagorical diversity of shapes and sizes, colors, patterns, and textures. In the beetle’s natural world his fabulous decoration is the camouflage that allows the beetle to blend seamlessly into the leaf litter of the forest floor or the shiny foliage of the rainforest canopy. Bark-like texture allows a longhorn beetle to disappear on a branch; patterning on a flower beetle mimics dappled sunlight and shadow through leaves. When lifted out of the concealing clutter their beauty comes into vivid focus. They are presented here, magnified and isolated against stark white backgrounds, to allow for a close inspection and appreciation of their complex structures, varieties of form, and kaleidoscope of colors and patterns.

With 350,000 identified species within 166 families, beetles represent one in five living species on earth, and one in four of all animal species. Any attempt to show them all would be an impossible task. This collection cannot come close to being a true representative sampling of all beetles, or all beetle families; it is merely a showcase of a few of the most beautiful and most readily available to collectors. Nor is this book an entomology text. Given that the subject is so enormous and diverse, scientific treatments are necessarily very specific, with volumes devoted to data concerning a single genus or species. The aim of this book is to present a small sample from the vast array of beetle beauty, a natural gallery encompassing forms ranging from the adorable to the grotesque.

Within the universe of beetle variety lies an encyclopedic vocabulary of ornament, a vast visual territory to be explored.

As conditions and habitats change, whether by human intervention or forces of nature, beetles continue to evolve. They are nature’s most prolific unending design project, and a limitless resource for artists, artisans, and designers.