One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large black predatory rove beetle which raises its hind end and opens its jaws in a threatening manner when disturbed.
Staphylinus olens, family Staphylinidae
- ‘The devil's coach-horse is a carnivorous insect, feeding on other insects and small creatures.’
- ‘‘It's a devil's coach-horse beetle,’ Hedgehog said, ‘they say that when it comes the Devil will be sure to follow.’’
- ‘The devil's coach-horse beetle is a very common and widespread European beetle, belonging to the large family of the Rove beetles (Staphylinidae).’
- ‘With the help of specially designed monoclonal antibodies, they collected devil's coach-horse beetles and analysed their guts.’
- ‘Devil's books ‘playing cards’ is from 1729, but the cited quote says they've been called that ‘time out of mind’ (the four of clubs is the devil's bedposts); devil's coach-horse is from 1840, the large rove-beetle, which is defiant when disturbed.’
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