Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"

Cluster of mating black and yellow bugs in Delaware
Mon, May 11, 2009 at 1:55 PM
I stumbled upon this mass of mating beetles (maybe they aren’t beetles) inside and on top of a rotting snake at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. Just curious as to what they are since I’ve never seen them before.
D. Fiero

Carrion Beetles

Carrion Beetles

Dear D.,
While it is difficult for us to ascertain from your photograph that mating is occurring, it is very obvious that a group of American Carrion Beetles, Necrophila americana, is feasting on the dead snake.  We will trust your powers of observation in the matter. Insects might be the original multi-taskers.  While multi-tasking might not be terribly efficient for humans in the computer age as evidenced by the documented numbers of automobile accidents that have occurred during cellular telephone calls and texting, trying to compete more than one task at a time is here to stay.  Getting back to the American Carrion Beetles, the rotting snake will also provide a food source for larval beetles, so mating while feeding would be a logical behavior.  According to BugGuide, the American Carrion Beetle’s habitat is “marshy and forested areas.”  BugGuide also indicates:  “Adults consume fly larvae (maggots) at carrion, as well as some carrion,” which would be a good way to ensure that there is more food for the developing beetle larvae.

While mushroom picking this September on the north-eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, I found this Hallowe’en coloured beetle along with some carrion beetles munching on a rotting Boletus badius.
Would you identify it for me please?
C. Peniuta

Burying Beetle

Burying Beetle

Hi C,
This is a Burying Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus.  They feed on carrion but are also attracted to rotting fungus.

Swimming beetle saved from a tragic end? And a beautiful orange/yellow caterpillar.
Hi again Bugman!
After perusing your wonderful website some more, I had to ask you about two more bug pictures I have. The first are of a beetle we found in the sand at low tide on the Oregon coast. The tide was coming in and he was about to get swept away, so I picked him up on a shell and carried him to safety. I appreciate you encouraging people not to kill the bugs they find; I have a cup dedicated to catching my house spiders so I can put them outside (if I can get to them before my cat does). The second picture is of a gorgeous caterpillar we spotted at a path at a beautiful spot on the Oregon coast called Beard’s Hollow. The path to the coast there is so beautiful, and simply covered with beautiful bugs of all kinds! I’m also sending a picture of a slug with pine needles stuck to its butt because I think it’s funny. I don’t even know if a slug is an insect… but figure you may appreciate it anyway! I know you all are busy; any help will be much appreciated! Thank you!
Sarah D. from Washington State

Hi Sarah,
This is a Black Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus nigrita. We will attempt to identify your caterpillar as well.

is this a burying beetle?
I saw this little guy while hiking near Wilmington, VT, but before i could get close enough for a better shot, he jumped up and flew away. i didn’t even notice the mites on his back until i got home and looked at the picture. is this a burying beetle? are they still endangered? thanks,

Hi Dan,
Yes, this is a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus, and the Phoretic Mites are just hitching a ride to a food source, often maggots that are feeding on the decaying carcass the Burying Beetle lays its eggs upon. The mites eat the maggots and leave more food for the beetle larvae. The Burying Beetle and the Phoretic Mites have a symbiotic relationship. We haven’t the time right now to give you an exact species on the Burying Beetle, but it is not the American Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus americanus, the endangered species. The American Burying Beetle is a large beetle with orange markings on the pronotum of the thorax.

Photos of Burying Beetle with Mites
Hey there,
I’m from Nova Scotia and took a couple of photos of this burrying beetle back in late August on the Eastern Shore in Jeddore. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time (looked like an unusual bee to me) but did recognize that it seemed odd and worth photographing. I posted these photos on a local message board this evening asking if anyone happened to see this insect before and someone came back with a link to your site saying they thought it resembled the Burying Beetle. After a quick look myself, I concured. I was also told that apparently, they’re rare in this region. Thought you might appreciate the photos for your site. Sincerely,
Elizabeth Gaudreau, Nova Scotia

Hi Elizabeth,
The beetle is a Tomentose Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus tomentosus, and the Mites are hitching a ride to a new food source, a phenomenon known as Phoresy. The Mites feed on fly eggs and maggots, and as flies are competitors for carrion, having the mites feeding on the maggots is beneficial to the young Burying Beetles as it leaves more food for them.

Alaskan Backyard ‘Bugs’
Hi! You guys are my new heros! I love the site and I don’t know how I’ve missed it before! I am going to be a regular viewer from now on! Without going through ALL your pix I thought you might like these to do with what you will. I am an amateur bug enthusiast (with only a BFA) that has been fortunate enough to periodically get gigs designing exhibits revolving around arthropods. (LA Zoo’s ‘Spider City’ is one of my designs, as is Santa Barbara Zoo’s ‘EEW’ (not my title)). Another exhibit that you may find amusing (it’s my personal favorite) can be found at . It’s cool (in more ways than one) to be able to design from my little studio on the bluffs overlooking Kachemak bay here in Homer, Alaska, then head down to the float plane pond to look for fresh water invertebrates then cruise over to the beach to check out the intertidal inverts. With a tidal range of 27 feet there is some cool stuff there for sure. The ones I find most interesting are the terrestrial inverts (collembolids, rove beetles and pseudoscorpions etc) that make their home at around the mean tide line so that they are submered in salt water (albeit in airbubbles in cracks and old barnacle shells) for 6 hours or more a day! But I ramble on… Anyway, keep up the amazing work! Cheers!
DeWaine Tollefsrud
Tipulid “Crane fly”, Nicrophorus sp., Caddis Fly, Rat-Tail Maggot” Such an ugly common name for Syrphid young

Rat Tailed Maggot Leatherback

Hi DeWaine,
Thanks for the awesome letter. We don’t normally like posting so many different kinds of insects with one letter as it complicates our archiving process, but we are making an exception in your case. We are fond of the common name for Cranefly Larvae, which is Leatherbacks. The Caddisfly Nymph, both in and out if its case, is a nice addition to our site.

Caddisfly Nymph Burying Beetle