Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"

Subject:  Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  California
Date: 04/28/2018
Time: 03:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Could you identify this bug for me please
How you want your letter signed:  Catie

Sexton Beetle

Dear Catie,
This is a Sexton Beetle or Burying Beetle in the genus
Nicrophorus.  Burying Beetles get their common name because adults will bury small animals including mice, birds and lizards after laying eggs upon the corpse.  According to BugGuide:  “Remarkable parental care: adults bury a small carcass, lay eggs in it, and stay to feed the young on regurgitated carrion.”

Wow! Way cool beetle!!! Very interesting! I had never seen one before!
Thank you for answering.
Catie Lambie

Subject:  Never seen this before in my life
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern New Hampshire
Date: 09/11/2017
Time: 04:42 PM EDT
I came across this bug today in the house bouncing off the window. It looked like a bee but clearly wasn’t, it had fuzzy tipped antennae and fuzzy front feet with bumps on it’s back end and when I caught it to release it, it released a scent like feces….I’ve never seen anything like it in 27years.
How you want your letter signed —
Thank you for any info! -Kate

Tomentose Burying Beetle with Phoretic Mites

Dear Kate,
This is a Tomentose Burying Beetle, and if you look really closely, you can see that there are Phoretic Mites crawling on its back.

Subject: Burying beetle Anchorage,AK
Location: Anchorage, AK
August 20, 2017 4:16 am
I’ve seen more of these this year than any year in the house I’m in now. I have also seen more dead voles in my yard, and more live ones running around than usual. I don’t think my ID is incorrect, but feel free to use my photo and correct me if I’m wrong.
Signature: MsRobin

Burying Beetle

Dear MsRobin,
This is indeed a Burying Beetle in the genus
Nicrophorus.   The Banded Sexton Beetle, Nicrophorus investigator, which is pictured on BugGuide, is a strong possibility for a species identification.  The dead voles you have found in your yard is likely a contributing factor in observing more Burying Beetles this year.  The mystery would be “What is causing the voles to die?”

Subject: Strange Red Wasp-like Bug
Location: Scotland
August 2, 2017 3:34 am
My mom found this bug flying and buzzing around our kitchen last night, it kept trying to run into our ceiling light, I thought it was some kind of wasp or hornet but I haven’t found anything resembling it on the internet. It’s the first time either of us have seen a creature like this so maybe it’s some sort of migrating species? Any info is greatly appreciated, thanks!! 🙂
Signature: Claire

Burying Beetle with Phoretic Mites

Dear Claire,
This is a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus, probably the Common Sexton Beetle,
Nicrophorus vespilloides, which is pictured on NatureSpot UK, and it is covered with Phoretic or hitch-hiking Mites.  According to NatureSpot UK:  “These beetles perform an important service in getting rid of carrion (dead small animals and birds). Males and females cooperate to bury this matter, by digging beneath the bodies to provide a food supply for their larvae.”  A more poetic version is available on BugLife where it states:  ” Love at first corpse!  Males and females first meet at corpses of dead and decaying animals such as mice and small birds. When love has struck males and females pair up and fight off any rival couples trying to take charge of the corpse. Once a pair has won the corpse they dig a hole beneath it and bury it, this is where they get their name from.”

Subject: Beetle with some tag-alongs in Bay Area California
Location: Palo Alto, California
January 12, 2017 5:54 pm
I stumbled on this site while trying to identify a beetle that wandered into our apartment a few days ago on a cold, rainy evening. It’s black and shiny, and at first I thought it had some moss on its back, so I put it in a jar to look at it closer and show my 2-year-old son who loves bugs and beetles. The next morning I discovered all of the little brown dots were not moss, and were indeed animals which were crawling all over the beetle! I put a leaf in which seems to be satisfying both the beetle and the tag-alongs (aphids?).
Needless to say, I’m curious what beetle this is and why it’d be carrying around dozens of smaller bugs.
Signature: Beetle Dad

Burying Beetle with Phoretic Mites

Dear Beetle Dad,
This is a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle in the genus
Nicrophorus.  Most Burying Beetles are black with orange markings, so we believe your all black individual is the Black Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus nigrita based on images posted to BugGuide where the range is listed as”Pacific US states & so. BC.”  The small creatures are Phoretic Mites which use the more mobile Burying Beetle for transportation. 

Subject: What’s this beetle?
Location: Rocky Moutains (8,000 ft)
September 22, 2016 11:41 am
Moved a board this spring that was near a creek in Estes Park, CO and found this beetle underneath it. The soil was moist and it kept trying to crawl under debris around it. The picture is pretty good I think and I am curious as to what it is and if I should avoid them.
Signature: Ian Taylor

Tomentose Burying Beetle

Tomentose Burying Beetle

Dear Ian,
We have determined that because of the “dense yellow hair on pronotum” which BugGuide refers to as  “distinctive,” your Sexton Beetle is a Tomentose Burying Beetle,
Nicrophorus tomentosus.  Though most Sexton Beetles work in pairs to bury small, dead animals like mice or birds after laying eggs upon the carcass, according to BugGuide:  “unlike other nearctic Nicrophorus, adults do not bury the carcass but make a shallow pit and cover the carcass with litter.”  If you look closely at the head of your beetle, you will see that it is carrying a Phoretic Mite.