Could you identify a large black bug?

Asked September 16, 2019, 3:04 PM EDT

My wife caught one of these in church and I found one cruising down the hallway at work. When I approached it with a paper tissue to wrap it up, it opened its mandibles wide and raised its tail, so I retreated and found a plastic cup instead, and it crawled right in. They are all black - top, bottom, and legs - and I would say they are not shiny. They are slightly longer than an inch, as seen in the photo with a ruler held under the cup. The abdomen is flexible, and the thorax looks like it is composed of two sections. They do not have wings. We are wondering if these are termites, but they are so large! Can you tell us what they are? Thanks, Fran

Washington County Oregon

3 Responses

Hello, thanks for sending this question to us. From your picture and description of its behavior I think you found a rove beetle, Ocypus olens or commonly called a Devil's Coach Horse. They can inflict a nasty bite as well as have a gland that can dispense a foul smelling fluid. Good news is that they help control snails and slugs. If you still have it, maybe you could drop it off at the local extension office to verify my ID, the picture is a little blurry.

Here is a link with more information: Devils-Coach-Horse

Washington County

1815 NW 169th Place
Suite 1000
Beaverton, OR 97006

Office: 503-821-1150

Thank you, Terry. The information in your link, and especially the picture of the defensive pose, match exactly what I saw. I let my specimen go outside, away from the building, but we froze the one my wife caught. If the church still has it, we can bring it to the local Extension office. I didn't realize we had an office so close by.