Tomentose Burying Beetle

Subject: Can you identify this beetle?
Location: East Windsor, CT
September 18, 2016 1:17 pm
A beetle flew in my drivers side window & struck me in the forehead. After safety pulling over I found between my seat a interesting bug I’d not seen before. It looks like a cross between a bumble bee & beetle. Orange and black back curtly Anita, about the size of a Quarter. I snapped some pictures, could you help me identify it?
Signature: Michael Liebler

Tomentose Burying Beetle and Mite
Tomentose Burying Beetle and Phoretic Mite

Dear Michael,
This is a Tomentose Burying Beetle,
Nicrophorus tomentosus, a species that can be distinguished from other Sexton Beetles in the same genus, according to BugGuide, by “dense yellow hair on pronotum distinctive,” a trait that adds to its resemblance to a Bumble Bee.  Burying Beetles or Sexton Beetles get their common name because they locate bodies of dead animals like mice, birds and even snakes which they bury after laying eggs on them.  According to BugGuide:  “Remarkable parental care: adults bury a small carcass, lay eggs in it, and stay to feed the young on regurgitated carrion.”  If you look closely at the image with the linoleum-like background, you can see a Phoretic Mite crawling on the pronotum.  Phoretic Mites have symbiotic relationships with Sexton Beetles, often covering them in great numbers for the sole purpose of hitching a ride to a prospective food source.  According to BugGuide:  “Phoretic mites are invariably present on Nicrophorus adults and may be involved in a symbiotic relationship with the beetles. These mites feed on any fly eggs that may be in the surrounding soil or on the carcass and which would otherwise hatch into maggots, competing (with Nicrophorus larvae) for the carrion (Springett 1968). In turn, the mites receive transportation to and from food sources that would otherwise be inaccessible to them, because carcasses are randomly distributed in place and time, and are a highly unpredictable resource. Four families of mites occur on the beetles: Parasitidae, Anoetidae, Uropodidae, and Macrochelidae. Poecilochirus mites (Parasitidae) form the largest and most active group of mites on the adult beetles….”

Tomentose Burying Beetle
Tomentose Burying Beetle

1 thought on “Tomentose Burying Beetle”

  1. I have been using a fly trap that has a lure for the flies but I am catching the Sexton Beetles. In a small trap that uses the lure and water I can catch up to 5 inches of these beetles. We do have a lot of chipmunks and our property is near woods.


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