Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"
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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.

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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

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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.

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Identification
July 14, 2009
The other day i was sitting in my basement when an insect (6 legs) landed on me. mostly black with red dots, large wings and when i brushed it off of me it then emitted a horrendous smell that was so bad i had to change
n/a
southeast missouri

Pustulated Carrion Beetle:  skewered

Pustulated Carrion Beetle: skewered

Dear n/a,
This is a Pustulated Carrion Beetle, Nicrophorus pustulatus.  It is one of the Burying Beetles
BugGuide reports:  “Reported to be a brood parasite of other Nicrophorus (1). Also reported to parasitize the eggs of Black Rat Snakes–see Ecoscience 7 (4) : 395-397 (2000). The beetle larvae destroy the snake eggs, thus, the beetle would qualify as a parasitoid, a relationship usually seen only among invertebrates.”  It appears that this Pustulated Carrion Beetle has been skewered, and we don’t believe it is to enter an insect collection, which would probably qualify it as unnecessary carnage.  In the scheme of things, the beetle stinking you up so you had to change your shirt is not as troublesome as you ending its life as payback.

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Snake Eater
Sun, Jul 5, 2009 at 6:44 AM
I found these guys in my yard. They were feasting on the carcass of a red bellied water snake, but I have also seen them eating a copperhead carcass earlier this year. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. My yard is in the outer limits of 30 year old subdivision near a lake, several creeks, with an undeveloped heavy woodland/wetland area of over 2000 acres adjoining the property. These photos were taken on July 4, 2009 at around 8:30 pm. They have been devouring this snake carcass for about 5 days now. They appear to be about 1 inch in length. They are black with white paterns on their neck. They have a broad back with black wings and are capable of flight. They seem to have a small black tail extending beyond their wings
I have lived in this area for 35 years and I have never seen these insects prior to this year. At first I thought they had white skulls on their backs, but now with the detail of photos I can see it is a different creepy pattern. So, what are these things?
Bugging Out
Raleigh, NC

American Carrion Beetles

American Carrion Beetles

Dear Bugging Out,
Your visitors are American Carrion Beetles, Necrophila americana.  BugGuide indicates that they eat maggots and carrion and states that they are:  ” 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 (4)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. “  Over the years, we have gotten numerous reports of them being associated with the corpses of snakes, but we have also gotten photos of them with the carcasses of mammals and molluscs, and even photos of them feeding on fungus.

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Big Flying Black Bee/Beetle with orange markings on it’s back
Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 3:19 PM
Was in my garage and killed what I thought was a HUGE bee looking insect. It could fly and was about 1.25″ long. Upon closer examination, it was much fatter than a bee or a wasp, had really long antenna that it moved independently was solid black except for 4 distinct orange boxes on it’s thorax which was like a little shield sitting on it’s shoulders and was about 1/4 of the insects length. It sate above the lower half of the insects abdomen which appeared to me like the thorax of a big wasp. What the heck was that!!!
Kevin
Mukilteo, Washington

Sexton Beetle (artist's rendition)

Sexton Beetle (artist's rendition)

Dear Kevin,
We are totally charmed and amused with your artistic rendering of what we are 99 & 44/100% sure is a species of Sexton Beetle or Burying Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus.  A pair of Sexton Beetles is capable of burying a small corpse like that of a mouse in a short period of time.  According to BugGuide, the Sexton Beetles exhibit “Remarkable parental care of larvae. Adults bury a small (usually) carcass, lay eggs in it, and stay with it, feeding the young on regurgitated carrion. (Yumm!)
.”  Since we are on holiday planting tomatoes in Ohio, we are preparing your letter in advance to post live to our site Sunday at noon.  We will be including a photo sent to us by C.J. last year of a Sexton Beetle.

Sexton Beetle

Sexton Beetle

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination