Clown Beetle and Mites

Flat Black Beetle and friends
Location: North East Illinois -Chicago area
July 25, 2011 6:13 pm
Hi Mr. Bugman,
I found this lovely little creature and some of his friends taking a nap with my 5 year old today. I was wondering if you could tell me what type of beetle he is and if I should have any concerns of infestation or disease. If you look at the picture closely you will see tiny little bugs (the size of a grain of sugar), one on the beetle’s back and one in the background. Are these babies or another type of bug? Upon initial examination of the beetle there were 6 or so of these little guys crawling on him. Any information or insight to what these are would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance!
Signature: concerned mom

Clown Beetle and Mite

Dear Concerned Mom,
We identified you beetle as a Clown Beetle in the genus
Hololepta on BugGuide which indicates they are found “under bark of decaying hardwoods,” and “Adults and larvae eat other insects.”  We don’t think you have to worry about your five year old, but the real mystery is how a beetle that is found in rotting wood found its way into the nursery along with some of his friends.  This image from Bugguide shows mites in association with the Clown Beetle, and the commentary indicates that Mites are frequently found with Clown Beetles.  BugGuide indicates that two species are found in the Northeast, and here is the description for differentiating between the two:  “In the northeastern U.S., and in Ontario and Quebec, the two species are H. lucida and H. aequalis. H. lucida has a long striation along the edge of each elytra. In H. aequalis this striation is abortive, starting at the base but extending only 1/4 the length of the elytra or less.

Clown Beetle

Thank you so much for the response and your time!  I appreciate the information.

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