Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"

ID for this handsome beetle?
Location:  Paso Robles, California
Date:     January 5, 2011 1:15:56 PM PST
he was in our bathroom at paso robles on fake flowers… (oaks and chapparal outside).
i loved his red antenna ends (for which i expect there is a technical term!).
Clare Marter Kenyon

Black Burying Beetle

Hi Clare,
What died in your bathroom?  This appears to be a Black Burying Beetle,
Nicrophorus nigrita, one of the Sexton Beetles.  Burying Beetles mate and then share the responsibility of burying small animals like mice upon which they lay eggs.  Both parents then care for and guard the young as they feed on the putrefying flesh.  The antennae are clavate or clubbed (see BugGuide).

Beetles devouring toad
Location:  Western North Carolina
July 30, 2010 9:55 pm
I found this congregation of beetles around and on a deceased toad, as far as I know they’re some sort of carrion beetle. I’d never seen such a gathering before!

American Carrion Beetles mate and eat toad

Hi Dakota,
Your identification is correct.  These are American Carrion Beetles,
Necrophila americana (see BugGuide) and it appears as though there are several mating pairs in your photo.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults consume fly larvae (maggots) at carrion, as well as some carrion.  Life Cycle Diurnal, not found at lights (but see comments here). Found on carrion and decaying fungi. Larvae eat carrion, larvae of flies and other carrion beetles. Eggs are laid singly on or near carrion. They prefer larger carrion, Milne (4) states “rat-sized or larger”. Larvae hatch in a few days, feed in or under carcass, and pupate in a nearby soil cell. Larvae may prefer dried skin, bits of flesh after maggots have departed. Adults overwinter.

American Carrion Beetles mating on dead toad

larva eats snail
July 2, 2010
Today I made new photos of this insect
I hope to help you identify it
Best Regards

Carrion Beetle Larva eats Snail

Hi again Dean,
Thanks for the better view of this larva’s head.  One of our readers, Mardikavana, identified the larva from your previous letter as the larva of a Silphid Beetle or Carrion Beetle.  Mardikavana wrote in a comment:  “
My best guess is that it is some kind of Silphidae larvae (definitely not Nicrophorus sp.) Well that’s the first family that comes to my mind:) and then later: “For example Ablattaria species larvae prey on snails. I think that Silpha atrata larvae should do the same but I couldn’t get any information about their food preferences.”

Carrion Beetle Larva eats Snail

Update from Dean
July 10, 2010
I continued my investigation on behalf of insect larvae that eat snails ……… and Bingoooo I think that I found the answer to the riddle. Insect that I shot it’s a larva of Phosphuga atrata (Family Silphidae), know under name Carrion Beetle,
This insect is not American Carrion Beetle, as your reader suggested.
Apparently American Carrion Beetle is a close relative of Carrion Beetle, which is found in Bulgaria
My assumptions are based on the fact that I have seen similar beetle Carrion Beetle, American Carrion Beetle but obviously not found in Bulgaria
See the next link –
Links of images –
Links of Web –

Update from Dean
July 10, 2010
Hi again 🙂
I found information that the larvae and the beetles of Phosphuga atrata (Family Silphidae), also known by the name European Carrion Beetle, eat snails
See next URL –
and this pic
P.S. Almost one month I read info for this insect and still I’m interested, especially when I find new details 🙂

Thanks for the updates Dean.

larva eats snail
June 25, 2010
On 22 June morning I went to shoot macro.
I made these interesting images of larvae feeding on a snail.
It looks like a grave-digger of the larva or grub of Firefly, but I’m not sure.
Please help to identify the larvae!
Dean Petkov
Bulgaria, Burgas

Possibly Silphid Larva Feeding upon Snail

Hello Dean,
We believe you are probably correct, though we would not rule out the larva of one of our favorite immigrant beetles in Los Angeles, a Rove Beetle known as a Devil’s Coach Horse, Ocypus olens.  Alas, the structure of antennae is not visible in your visually compellingly symmetrical photograph, a study in simplicity and circular composition, and the structure of antennae are frequently used to key out specimens into their taxonomic families, genera and even species.  The Devil’s Coach Horse is a magnificent beetle that we believe feeds upon snails.  A photo on Flickr identified as the larva of Ocypus olens does not look like your predator, so we would favor the Firefly hypothesis.  Perhaps we will get some assistance on this identification.
On a more personal level, my paternal grandfather came from Bulgaria, but his name (hence my name) was changed at Ellis Island.

Mardikavana provided us with a comment indicating that this is not a Coach Horse Larva nor a Firefly Larva, and that it might be a Silphid Larva.  It has been our understanding that Silphid Beetles are not predators, but scavengers that feed upon carrion.

Burying beetle found by lizard carcass
May 16, 2010
Hi Bugman,
I found this guy a few days ago in the mountains of North Carolina, hovering around a lizard that had been slain by our resident cat. After looking through your archives I’m relatively sure he’s a burying beetle. Thought you might be interested in seeing some action shots!
Thanks for maintaining such a fascinating and educational site
Black Mountain, North Carolina

Burying Beetle

Hi Dakota,
Your photos are quite a wonderful documentation of a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle in the genus Nicrophorus.  Many species look similar, but we believe this may be Nicrophorus carolinus based on photos posted to BugGuide.

Burying Beetle with Dead Lizard

Read Full Article →

A strange one to me
May 15, 2010
Hello Daniel,
Never saw one like this before. Three of them were beside and beneath a small snake that had gotten killed by the lawnmower a few days ago. Two appeared to be mateing I moved the little snake with a stick to get a better photo and they scattered in three different directions. They look to have wings but did not attempt to fly instead they wanted to hid beneath the grass. They all were very shy, First glance I thought they were bumble bees from their size and color. But after a closer look they clearly are not. I hope you can help with this one as I don’t have a clue. Thank you and have a wonderful day.
North Middle Tennessee

American Carrion Beetle

American Carrion Beetle
Hi Daniel,
I sent a request for an ID along with two images this afternoon…I have since identified it from “Bug Guide” and your website as an “American Carrion Beetle” I should have did some searching before submitting my request. Thanks again and I hope this e-mail gets to you before you go to any trouble with my request. Have a wonderful day.

American Carrion Beetle

Hi Richard,
We do not consider answering and posting letters to be trouble, and we are most pleased to hear about readers like you who use our resources as well as those on BugGuide to identify creatures they are curious about.  Your letter and photos of the American Carrion Beetle, Necrophila americana, are a wonderful addition to our site archives.