Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"

Burying beetles score a snake!
Thanks, again, you guys. I was stalking a zebra longwing when something big and slightly clumsy flew by and landed in the grass a few feet away. Since it was maybe 2″ long and went busily to work on the ground, I went over to see what the commotion was all about. These two burying beetles were busy pulling the tail end of this snake into a hole they were digging in the ground. Big chunks of the snake had been chewed away. (I don’t know what kind of snake this is; at less than 12″ long, it’s probably a youngster.) After ID-ing the beetle on your site, I thought you might like to see these.
Diane in Florida

Hi Diane,
Thanks for the wonderful images. We believe that this is Nicrophorus carolinus, based on a BugGuide posting.

My friend Joseph and I found this bug while chatting on the photo drive at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. At first I thought it was a stinker bug and Joseph tried to squish it to see if it would really stink, but in a lightig quick move I stopped him just before his foot hit the ground. Upon a second and closer inspection I found out it was not a stinker bug. Since we are photo and film students, we decided that we needed to have a picture taken of it, so we did. Now I am sending it to you for your web site.
Thanks a bunch.

Hi Bettina,
I am so happy to hear you and Joseph are having fun while pursuing your studies. Like I told you in front of my class, this is one of the Burying Beetles. Further research on BugGuide leads me to believe it is Nicrophorus nigrita, the Black Burying Beetle. Burying Beetles often work in as a pair when they locate a small dead animal like a mouse or bird. The beetles dig a pit under the corpse until it is below the surface. Then they bury the critter and lay eggs. I also noticed some mites on your beetle when you presented it to me in that American Spirit cigarette pack. The mites hitch a ride on the beetle and feed on maggots that are attracted to the rotting flesh.

beetle with offspring?
Hi There. We found this creature in our house one evening. It had small, moving, red creatures(?) on it’s back which I thought might be offspring or parasites. I’ve never seen this type of bug before. Can you help? We live in Santa Barbara, CA. Thanks for your help.

Hi PW,
This is a Burying Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus. Here is a quote from a posting Eric Eaton made to Bugguide: “The mites are phoretic, meaning they are only using the beetle as transportation. This is a carrion beetle (Nicrophorus sp.), and once it arrives at a carcass, the mites will disembark (de-beetle?), and go about feeding on the eggs of blow flies, the beetle’s major competition for the corpse. So, the mites actually benefit the beetle.”

Update from Barry M. OConnor (05/23/2006)
Mites on burying beetles. These are as you indicate, phoretic mites in the family Parasitidae, genus Poecilochirus. Species in this genus all have obligate relationships with silphid beetles. Although they will feed on fly eggs, they also feed from the vertebrate carrion as well.

another bug
Hi guys…
I discovered this guy hiding under groundcover…. Perfect timing—he looks like the Halloween bug…. Some borer or beetle I guess…if you know the name, I’d appreciate it! Thanks,
Sherrie Gerber

Hi Sherrie,
This is one of the Burying Beetles, so named because they bury small dead animals that act as a larval food source.

biggest beetle iv ever seen
this flying beetle thinggie was spotted and photographed inside of a crushed dishwasher in the metal pile at the dump on nantucket island in august 05.. it was at least three inches long i only got one shot of it before it flew off.. what was it?

Hi August,
This is an American Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus americanus, and our beetle guide says they grow to 35 mm, or just about 1 1/2 inches, which is still pretty large. I guess you found it in the dump as that is probably a good place to find carrion, the larval food source. It is often attracted to lights and is found near dead animals.

Ed. Note: This just in from Eric Eaton. (09/12/2005)
“If that image is indeed an American burying beetle, and it sure does look like it, then you have a “scoop.” The American burying beetle is a federally listed endangered species. It is critical that we identify EXACTLY where this specimen was photographed. It may represent a new record, and/or reflect a successful reintroduction effort. The locality information, and the image, should be forwarded to someone at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Please keep me posted on this most important find. Thanks. Eric”

(09/14/2005) Followup from Eric Eaton:
A quick Google search turned up that they do have a release site on Nantucket Island for the American burying beetle. I found a couple people to e-mail to, so maybe we’ll find out more at some point. Looks like they need to do a bit more public awareness so folks know about the insect! Eric

Here is the picture of the beetles we need to ID…
Not sure is this is a male female pair as they look a little different.
Thank you…and a big thank you for the web site you sent we are enjoying it.
Jeffrey & Margaret

Dear Jeffrey and Margaret,
You have a species of Carrion or Burying Beetle, Family Silphidae. According to the Dillons, they are “Usually large, loosely constructed beetles, that have the body black, sometimes ornamented with yellow or red. … Decaying animal matter, especially dead birds, mice, and snakes, is the usual habitat of these species, though some occur on decaying fungi. The eggs are deposited in the bodies of small mammals or fragments of decaying flesh, which are then buried by the adults to a depth of from several inches to a foot. Two beetles working together can bury a mouse or other small animal very rapidly.” Eric writes to us that: “The burying or carrion beetles are Necrodes surinamensis, male on left with the enlaged hind legs, female on the right.”