I was wondering what sort of insect this is. It landed on our picnic table in Frankfort Indiana and had little red aphid-like insects crawling on it’s carapace and antenna. The insect was having difficulty moving but did not seem to be fighting the aphids other than to get them off its antennae. Can you identify it? Thanks
This is a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus. They bury small animals and lay eggs since rotting flesh is the larval food. The red crawlers you saw, but that your photograph does not show very well, are maggot eating mites. The Burying Beetle and the Mites have a symbiotic relationship. The Mites hitch a ride on the Burying Beetle to be transported to a new food source, since maggots also feed on rotting flesh. This ride hitching is known as Phoresy. The Burying Beetle benefits since the mites eat fly eggs and maggots leaving more rotting flesh for the developing beetle larva. Nice tablecloth.