Burying Beetle with Mites

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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