- "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 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 also 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.
- Star Wars: Empire 35: A Model Officer (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- I, Jedi
- Champions of the Force (First appearance)
- Darksaber (Appears 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)
- Edge of Victory I: Conquest
- Emissary of the Void (Mentioned only)
- Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream (Mentioned only)
- Betrayal (Mentioned only)
- Exile (as miniature droid)
- Fury (Mentioned only)
- Outcast (Mentioned only)
- Backlash (Mentioned only)
- Conviction (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 Insider 92
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption: Prima Official Game Guide
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia