Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"
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larvae on dead mole
October 29, 2009
These larvae were found on a dead mole that had been under a wheelbarrow about a month (October 4-October 27, 2009 in rural Central Missouri). I have a group of children who routinely explore the woods in this area and when we find a dead creature we place it under the wheelbarrow to watch the decay process. We have not encountered these worm like creatures before.
Millersburg Preschool
Rural Central Missouri

Sexton Beetle Larvae eating a dead mole

Sexton Beetle Larvae eating a dead mole

Dear Millersburg Preschool,
Though we write about them often, this is the first photo we have ever received of the larvae of a Sexton Beetle, one of the Burying Beetles in the genus Nicrophorus.  We found a photo on BugGuide of the larvae of the endangered American Burying Beetle that is very close to your image.  We cannot say for certain exactly what species in the genus Nicrophorus your larvae will become, but we are somewhat certain they are not the rare American Burying Beetle.  A pair of Sexton Beetles will work burying the corpse of a small rodent or bird and then lay eggs.  The adults often stay with the developing larvae and care for them.

Thank you for your quick response!  The children will be so excited to know this!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Who is this death muncher?
October 24, 2009
I’ve seen these guys a couple of times, the first time I ever saw them was among other bugs voraciously consuming a mole corpse who’s death had been basking in the summer heat for at least two days. They were the dominant insect in and on that corpse. His thorax reminds me Roman muscle armor… What is this odd little guy?
Eric, The Wild Man
willamette valley, along the columbia river. Oregon

Sexton Beetle

Sexton Beetle

Hi Eric,
This is one of the Burying Beetles in the genus Nicrophorus that are known as Sexton Beetles.  We expect it is the highly variable Nicrophorus defodiens.  BugGuide has a nice array of images with some individuals possessing bold spotting, and others with subtle spotting like your specimen.  Burying Beetles often work in pairs, burying small dead creatures, laying eggs on the carcass.

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Black beetle with large orange spots
October 9, 2009
Date: 8Oct09
Found beetle wandering around the lawn near cedar trees on damp dreary day. Took pictures and when sun warmed the bug, he flew away. Pictures show bug held by pine needle and with one wing unfolding.
Size: 2 cm long
Peter
46° 12.496′N; 79° 29.539′W

Sexton Beetle

Sexton Beetle

Hi Peter,
This is a Sexton Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus, possibly Nicrophorus orbicollis.  Sexton Beetles are sometimes called Burying Beetles.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

black and yellow bugs
August 13, 2009
I saw these guys munching on some strange mushroom-like growth that appeared on the edge of the woods. The fungi and the bugs seemed to have appeared overnight. The bugs were quick but did not leave the mushroom even when I harassed them with my close contact. What are they?
Linda
southcentral Kentucky

Carrion Beetles
Carrion Beetles

Dear Linda,
These are American Carrion Beetles, Necrophila americana.  Both adults and larvae consume carrion and the maggots that are attracted to the rotting flesh, but we have received other reports associating them with mushrooms.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is this flying black bug with orange spots?
August 10, 2009
I’ve never seen a bug quite like this one, it flew into my house, and ended up landing on a washcloth, where I was able to get a picture. It was covered in tiny spiders so as soon as I got the picture I put the bug and the washcloth outside, but I’m still curious as to what it was exactly. It was 1-2 inches long, definitely had wings and three pairs of legs. Its antennae and legs were furry.
Thanks
Enumclaw, Washington

Sexton Beetle with Phoretic Mites

Sexton Beetle with Phoretic Mites

This is a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus, but we cannot tell you the exact species.  None of the examples posted to BugGuide illustrate four distinct red spots in a row across the elytra or wing covers.  The Burying Beetle was transporting Mites, not spiders.  The Mites use the Burying Beetle to travel from location to location, a phenomenon known as phoresy, in order to take advantage of flight to access a new food source.  Burying Beetles will bury small dead creatures like birds or mice and lay eggs on the carcass.  The young feed on the rotting flesh.  The Mites feed on fly eggs and maggots, so phoresy is mutually advantageous to the Mites and the Burying Beetles.  The Mites get a food source and the Burying Beetle benefits because more rotting flesh is available to its progeny.  We will see if Eric Eaton can assist us in an exact species identification.

Update from Eric Eaton
Daniel:
I’m pretty sure this is just a variation of the sexton beetle Nicrophorus defodiens.  It is highly variable in its markings, as evidenced by the individual specimens in the image gallery here:
http://collections2.eeb.uconn.edu/nicroweb/hatchabs/index.htm
I know I have seen very similar specimens from northwest Oregon, too.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Unknown beach beetle
July 17, 2009
These beetles were discovered during horseshoe crab spawning season on Pickering Beach, Delaware. I’ve yet to find a good match in any of our bug books. We did collect one that looked very dead, but it crawled inside a crab carcass and hasn’t been seen since. Can you help with an ID?
I’ve been visiting periodically since last July when I identified and observed a grapevine beetle from July through the end of November.
LKStimeling
Pickering Beach, Delaware

mystery beetles

Hastate Hide Beetles

Dear LKStimerling,
Were it not for the antennae on the individual on the far left, we would say that these are Carrion Beetles, more specifically, the Northern Carrion Beetle, Thanatophilus lapponicus.  BugGuide has several images including some mounted specimens.  One photo of a specimen from Alberta Canada is a dead ringer, but for the antennae.  The individual in your photo on the far left most certainly has lamellate antennae which Comstock in our 1940 edition on page 41 defines as “the segments that compose the knob are extended on one side into broad plates.”  On page 487 of the same volume under the family Silphidae, he writes:  “The segments near the tip of the antennae form a compact club, which is neither comblike nor composed of thin movable plates;  sometimes the antennae are nearly filiform.”  Finding these beetles during the spawning of the horseshoe crab might be significant.  Since Carrion Beetles are attracted to putrefying flesh, and since there is probably a bit of carnage during the mating, the presence of Carrion Beetles makes sense.  Since we have pretty much decided that this if probably NOT a Northern Carrion Beetle, based on the antennae alone, we are stumped.  The lamellate antennae are often found in the Scarabidae, but we aren’t happy with that ID either.  We are forwarding this mystery to Eric Eaton to clean up. As a side note, we are thrilled that your photo includes what would seem to be a mating pair in the center, which qualifies this image for our Bug Love page.

Immediate Update
Immediately upon posting we decided to do additional research.  We backtracked to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea that includes both Scarab Beetles and Carrion Beetles.  There we found the family Trogidae, the Hide Beetles.  We found our match, antennae and all, and now we need to try to determine the genus.  Our frontrunner is Omorgus scabrosus, based on the drawing of the scutellum by Phil Harpootlian on the family page on BugGuide.  That would make this a Hastate Hide Beetle.  Since they are found on carrion in the late stages of decomposition, all that we stated earlier regarding the presence at the Horseshoe Crab spawning holds true.  Since our archiving taxonomy is sketchy at best, we will be filing this with the Carrion Beetles.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination