Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"
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Subject: Burying Beetle
Location: Inland Northwest
May 26, 2013 2:33 pm
We found this character in our backyard in a bird feed dish that was on the ground and had pools of water in it with some mushy plant material that had fallen in as well. It was near a dead bloated worm and had all of these little guys crawling all over it. We weren’t sure if it was a parental or parasitic situation so I dumped the whole lot in a tuft of grass and put the dish up. Later a friend told us that burying beetles often carry swarms of mites on their bodies to help keep them clean of microbes and fly eggs.
Signature: Dave

Burying Beetle with Mites

Burying Beetle with Mites

Dear Dave,
This is in fact a Burying Beetle and the information you received is correct.  The Mites are phoretic and they do not harm the beetle.  They use the beetle for transportation and it is believed that the mites feed on maggots and fly eggs that would compete with the larval beetles for precious food of rotting flesh on the small dead animals the adult Burying Beetles locate and bury for their offspring.  We will be postdating this submission to go live next week during our absence from the office.

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Subject: Big huge bug!!
Location: Outside @ Walgreens
May 17, 2013 4:01 pm
I saw this big ol’ bug outside of Walgreens in Minnesota. I’ve never seen one before! It was huge! Probably a little more than an inch long, and moving pretty slowly. I took a picture with my foot for size comparison but I didn’t want to get too close in case it decided to crawl on me…
Signature: Leslie

Sexton Beetle

Sexton Beetle

Hi Leslie,
This is a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus, but we cannot say for certain which species it is.  Perhaps one of our readers can provide some suggestions.  Sexton Beetles often work in pairs to bury small, dead animals.  Eggs are laid on the putrifying flesh and the adults help to guard the growing brood.  More information on Sexton Beetles as well as photos of many North American species are posted on BugGuide.  We actually think this Sexton Beetle would look lovely crawling on your stylish footwear.  Because we occasionally get images of insects that contribute to fashion statements, we created a Buggy Accessories tag that we hope our readers find amusing.  Though we would have to imagine this Sexton Beetle accessorizing your fashionable running shoes, it isn’t too difficult as our staff has such vivid imaginations, so we are taking the liberty of tagging your post as a Buggy Accessory.

Sexton Beetle

Sexton Beetle

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Various Carrion Beetles
Location: Barrington, New Hampshire
May 7, 2013 2:38 pm
Howdy Bugman!
Been awhile since I sent you anything, but as spring is here and the insects are creeping back out, I thought you might like to see some of the recent fruits of photographing. Today while searching a favorite spot of mine, I came across the carcass of a small animal with no less than three species of Carrion Beetle feeding on it. If I have them correctly identified, it starts with a Margined Carrion Beetle, then a Northern one and finally an American one. This was a great find for me as I had not seen any of them before in the wild, hope you enjoy them too.
Signature: Black Zarak

Margined Carrion Beetle

Margined Carrion Beetle

Dear Black Zarak,
Thank you for this wonderful study in diversity.  How exciting to have found all three in the proximity of a single corpse.  We wish you had also sent a photo of the group.  We agree with your identifications.  The first does indeed look like the Margined Carrion Beetle,
Oiceoptoma noveboracense, that is pictured on BugGuide which states:  “Similar, but smaller than the more common Necrophila americana. In this species the black mark on the pronotum extends to the base. Edges of pronotum tinged with yellow or orange.”

Northern Carrion Beetle

Northern Carrion Beetle

Your second individual does appear to be a Northern Carrion Beetle, Thanatophilus lapponicus, which is also pictured on BugGuide.  Interestingly, though BugGuide states the range as:  “Throughout Canada, Alaska, and northern part of United States. Southward in western states at higher elevations to southern California, Arizona, New Mexico. Also found in Eurasia,” all the BugGuide reports are from western states.  We could not locate any postings of Northern Carrion Beetles in our archives, so we believe this is a first for our site. 

The American Carrion Beetle, Necrophila americana, is the one species that is well represented on our site.  According to BugGuide:  “Diurnal, not found at lights. … Found on carrion and decaying fungi. Larvae eat carrion, larvae of flies and other carrion beetles. Eggs are laid singly on or near carrion. They prefer larger carrion, Milne (5) states ‘rat-sized or larger’. Larvae hatch in a few days, feed in or under carcass, and pupate in a nearby soil cell. Larvae may prefer dried skin, bits of flesh after maggots have departed. Adults overwinter.”  We suppose the three species are active in spring in the northern climes when they hunt out animals that have died and frozen over the winter and begin decaying once they have thawed out.

American Carrion Beetle

American Carrion Beetle

I do actually have a couple pictures of them on the carcass, I’ll attach them to this. You can see the American beetle clearly and the abdomen of the Margined sticking out, but the Northern one was somewhere underneath and came crawling out later. I also got some really nice pictures of Six-Spotted Tiger Beetles chasing each other and mating on the same outing if you’d like to see those.

Carrion Beetles

Carrion Beetles

Thanks for sending the additional photos.  We had imagined numerous Carrion Beetles crawling about in the carcass.  By all means send the Tiger Beetle photos.  Please submit a new form at Ask What’s That Bug?

Whatever they were eating had been a pretty small animal to start with (perhaps a snake or mouse) so really I was surprised that even three beetles had managed to cram in/under it. I sent in the Tiger Beetle photos as well, hope you like them!

 

 

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Subject: Bug on mushrrom
Location: Southern Manitoba Canada
August 18, 2012 8:13 pm
What’s the bugs name, and what’s the mushroom name (if possible)? There was a bad odour associated with the bug and mushroom – if that helps with the identification. Thanks.
Signature: Gerry Kramer

American Carrion Beetles

Hi Gerry,
These are American Carrion Beetles,
Necrophila americana.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults consume fly larvae (maggots) at carrion, as well as some carrion” and “Found on carrion and decaying fungi. Larvae eat carrion, larvae of flies and other carrion beetles. Eggs are laid singly on or near carrion. They prefer larger carrion, Milne (5) states “rat-sized or larger”. Larvae hatch in a few days, feed in or under carcass, and pupate in a nearby soil cell. Larvae may prefer dried skin, bits of flesh after maggots have departed.”  We are not certain if the odor was produced by the fungus rotting or if the mushroom had a bad odor itself.  Though most folks associate flowers with having a pleasant fragrance, there are plants like the Corpse Flower, Amorphophallus titanum, that have a foul odor which attracts flies and other insects that feed on decay.  The same may be true of mushrooms.  The Corpse Flower has evolved so that the foul odor attracts insects that will pollinate it ensuring that it will produce offspring.  The Huntington Gardens in San Marino, CA is a great place to view the Corpse Flower when it blooms.  We do not recognize the mushroom, but perhaps a mycologist will be able to provide that information.

American Carrion Beetles

 

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Subject: Mouse eating bugs
Location: Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
August 2, 2012 8:30 pm
It’s summer here, August 2nd, and I found these bugs outside in the evening devouring a dead mouse. They could fly, and occasionally they would fight each other. Also, it appeared as though they may have been carrying their babies on their back. They were incredibly active, especially when fighting with each other, any idea what they are?
Signature: -L

Burying Beetles eat mouse

Hi L,
These are Burying Beetles or Sexton Beetles in the genus
Nicrophorus, and Burying Beetles are best know for burying small dead animals and guarding the corpse while their larvae develop in the putrefying flesh.  It appears this mouse is on concrete, and the Burying Beetles are unable to bury it on site and it is too heavy for them to transport.  The babies you mentioned are most like Phoretic Mites which use the Burying Beetles’ ability to fly to hitchhike to a new food source.  The mites will feed on maggots and fly eggs so this is a symbiotic relationship between the Burying Beetles and the Phoretic Mites.  The Mites get transportation and the Bury Beetles benefit because there is more rotting flesh for their young, ensuring that more larvae will have enough food to mature and perpetuate the next generation.  You can get additional information on Burying Beetles on BugGuide.

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Insect larvae ID
Location: Peak District…. Northern England
May 1, 2012 7:32 am
Can you please ID these ”mini beasts” found 30/4/12 in the North of England (the Peak District) They are feeding on the remains of a Brown Hare (Lepus capensis) The time was mid afternoon, the weather was fine and sunny after several days of heavy rain.
Thanks and regards Joe Lyman
Signature: Joe Lyman

Carrion Beetle Larvae

Hi Joe,
These are Carrion Beetle Larvae.  We are having trouble locating a photo from the UK that supports our identification, however, we did locate some nice line art, including this image from the Insects and Other Arthropods website and this image from Clipart.  The American Carrion Beetle,
Necropila americana, is a North American species that can be found on BugGuide.  Carrion Beetles perform an important function by contributing to the decomposition of dead animals.  This is an awesome photograph.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination