- "One bit me, then at the smell of blood the others swarmed over me."
- ―Bevel Lemelisk
Piranha beetles were colorfully-shelled carnivorous insects that lived on the jungle moon of Yavin 4. Though they were only three centimeters long, they gathered in large swarms which could kill much larger prey, like runyips, by eating the flesh directly off living beings.
Piranha beetle swarms built hives made from chewed vegetation and saliva in Yavin 4's treetops. Each hive had a queen that led the hive's reproductive and food-gathering activities.
Following the duel on Yavin 4 between Anakin Skywalker and Asajj Ventress, Palpatine sent Mas Amedda to the moon to acquire some of the beetles for him. Bevel Lemelisk, one of the chief designers of the Death Star, was executed multiple times and then cloned by Emperor Palpatine. One of these executions involved piranha beetles. According to Lemelisk, he was placed in a glass cage and swarms of piranha beetles were released through holes in the floor. The insects killed and devoured Lemelisk.
The Alliance to Restore the Republic's base on Yavin 4 was sprayed with chemical insecticide to keep the voracious insects out. When Luke Skywalker established a Jedi Praxeum at the same location, he discovered that several of his students developed allergic reactions to the insecticides. He then used the Force to imprint the academy's perimeter with a sense of distaste and disorientation. This kept the beetle swarms away, but without the need for hazardous chemicals.
When Jacen Solo attended the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4, he kept two piranha beetles as pets. He kept them calm by using the Force.
Behind the scenes
In the novel Darksaber, Palpatine says he rescued the beetles from Yavin 4 before the Death Star was supposed to destroy it, implying that they were collected shortly before the Battle of Yavin. In the "Refresher Reading" article in Star Wars Insider 92, it was stated that Mas Amedda had also collected them after the Clone Wars-era duel on Yavin 4 between Anakin Skywalker and Asajj Ventress.
- Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds (Mentioned only)
- Empire 35 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- I, Jedi
- Champions of the Force (First appearance)
- Darksaber (In flashback(s))
- Planet of Twilight (Mentioned only)
- Young Jedi Knights: Heirs of the Force
- Young Jedi Knights: Lightsabers (Mentioned only)
- Young Jedi Knights: Jedi Under Siege
- Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell (First appearance as tattoo)
- Young Jedi Knights: Trouble on Cloud City (First identified as Piranha beetle tattoo)
- Young Jedi Knights: Crisis at Crystal Reef (Tattoo only)
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory I: Conquest
- Emissary of the Void (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream (Mentioned only)
- Legacy of the Force: Betrayal (Mentioned only)
- Legacy of the Force: Exile (as miniature droid)
- Legacy of the Force: Fury (Mentioned only)
- Fate of the Jedi: Outcast (Mentioned only)
- Fate of the Jedi: Outcast audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Fate of the Jedi: Backlash (Mentioned only)
- Fate of the Jedi: Backlash audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Fate of the Jedi: Conviction (Mentioned only)
- Fate of the Jedi: Conviction audiobook (Mentioned only)
- The Illustrated Star Wars Universe
- The Jedi Academy Sourcebook
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 15 (YAV2, Yavin 4)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 105 (YAV8, Yavin 4 Animals)
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption Expansion: Prima Official Game Guide
- Star Wars Insider 92
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas