Currently viewing the category: "Carrion Beetles"

Subject:  Beetle ID
Geographic location of the bug:  Lake county, Ohio
Date: 07/25/2019
Time: 09:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello! My young explorer found this mystery beetle and we would love to know more about it. Thank you for your help!
How you want your letter signed:  Natalie

Sexton Beetle

Dear Natalie,
This is a Sexton Beetle in the genus
Nicrophorus.  Your individual has very few red spots, so it was easy to identify as Nicrophorus pustulatus on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide: “Reported to be a brood parasite of other Nicrophorus. Also reported to parasitize the eggs of Black Rat Snakes, Elaphe obsoleta (Blouin-Demers & Weatherhead 2000, Trumbo 2009). The beetle larvae destroy the snake eggs, thus, the beetle would qualify as a parasitoid of the snake, a relationship usually seen only among invertebrates. In the wild, N. pustulatus is not known to exhibit the usual carcass-burying behavior of other members of its genus, though it will display some of this behavior in captivity. There is suspicion, too, that it may parasitize eggs of other reptiles, and, perhaps, birds (Trumbo 2009).”

Subject:  Burying Beetle (?) COVERED with phoretic mites
Geographic location of the bug:  Tonasket WA
Date: 07/24/2019
Time: 11:10 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Poor thing couldn’t fly or retract it’s wings, but it was moving really fast and furious on the ground in the driveway. Surprised my camera picked stuff up as good as it did. I put it next to my flower beds and it must have wanted cover, because it headed straight for the jungle. The belly was completely covered also.
How you want your letter signed:  Cathy

Sexton Beetle and Phoretic Mites

Dear Cathy,
Thanks so much for sending in your excellent image of a Burying Beetle or Sexton Beetle covered in Phoretic Mites.  It is our understanding that the Phoretic Mites do not harm the Sexton Beetle, though it might have trouble flying.  The Phoretic Mites are opportunistic, and they use the Sexton Beetle to travel to new sites where they can find a food supply.

Subject:  Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Wolverhampton England
Date: 07/11/2019
Time: 08:34 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Saw this today in my garden, about 1 1/2 inches long, poor flyer.Thick short anennae, large plate at rear of head.
How you want your letter signed:  S.J.Harris

Sexton Beetle

Dear S.J. Harris,
This is a Sexton Beetle or Burying Beetle in the genus
Nicrophorus, possibly Nicrophorus interruptus which is pictured on UK Beetles where it states:  “Nicrophorus species are unusual among beetles as they display biparental care of the larvae. They feed and breed on carrion and some species will breed communally on carrion too large to bury. Most species breed at small carcases of rodents and birds. Usually being attracted by the smell, a carcass will attract many individuals and the beetles will fight; males with males and females likewise, for the right to bury and breed on the food source. If a single male arrives at carrion it will wait for a partner to arrive; they attract females by releasing a pheromone from the tip of the abdomen. Females can bury a carcass and raise larvae alone from sperm stored from previous matings. The pair digs a depression beneath the carcass by pushing soil forward with their heads, if the soil is too hard they will move the carcass a short distance to more suitable substrate. Before burying the carcass they remove the fur or feathers and smear it with bactericide and fungicide to slow the decay and make it less attractive to other beetles and flies etc. Before burial the carcass is rolled into a ball. The removed fur etc. is used to line and reinforce the burial chamber, and the complete process of burial may take eight hours. Eggs are laid in the soil and the newly hatched larvae move onto the carcass. Adults feed on the carrion and regurgitate liquid food in response to begging behaviour from the larvae, this is thought to speed larval development and also to help preserve the food. If there are too many larvae the adults will selectively cull them at an early age. Adults protect and provision the larvae throughout their lives, eliminating competition from dipteral larvae etc. Full grown larvae move into the soil to pupate.”

Subject:  Black Segmented Tapered
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Virginia
Date: 05/25/2019
Time: 09:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
While walking in a wooded area near a small body of water, we spotted this cute creature crawling among the leaves and hiding.  It crawled in a wavy “S” formation when it changed direction.  Not like pill bugs that seem to keep their segments parallel when they crawl. Its head reminded me of a type of roach I saw in Florida and also a black cricket. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  A fellow bug enthusiast

Carrion Beetle Larva

Dear fellow bug enthusiast,
This is a larval insects and larvae can be very difficult to identify with accuracy.  We believe this is a Carrion Beetle larva from the family Sylphidae.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.  The female Carrion Beetle lays her eggs on or near a recent corpse, and the larvae feed on the rotting flesh, though many species will also feed on fungus.  

That’s exactly it! Thank you!

Subject:  Alien bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern New Jersey
Date: 07/09/2018
Time: 10:24 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Let the bug free or take it to someone you don’t like.
How you want your letter signed:  Organic Man

American Carrion Beetle

Dear Organic Man,
We vote for “let the bug free” in your garden.  This is an American Carrion Beetle, and it will feed upon dead animals in your garden, including moles, toads, snakes, and birds, and they will even feed on smelly mushrooms.  They will be advantageous to your organic garden since the larvae feed on some of the flesh as well as insects attracted to rotting carcasses.  

Subject:  Orange and Black beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Alameda Creek Trail, Union City, California
Date: 07/08/2018
Time: 02:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, Bugman.
Found this beetle clinging to a dried out bush. Went to photograph the insect and it fell to the ground and laid on its back. With a small twig, I turned it over several times, but the beetle insisted to roll on its back and play dead.  What is this bug?
How you want your letter signed:  John

Sexton Beetle

Dear John,
This is a Sexton Beetle or Burying Beetle in the genus
Nicrophorus.  Sexton Beetles locate small dead animals, including mice, voles, birds, lizards and many others, and they bury them after laying eggs.  They sometimes guard the eggs and care for the young that feed on both the putrifying flesh and the other insects attracted to rotting flesh, including maggots.  Because of the red tips on the antennae and your location, our best species guess is the Yellow Bellied Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus guttala, which is pictured on BugGuide.

Before your reply, I had done some research on my own and found what I thought was a Burying Beetle.
Do you know if it is Necrophorus Americanus? Wikipedia lists them as Critically Endangered.
Thanks for the ID, Daniel.
~ John
Hi again John,
This is NOT the highly endangered American Burying Beetle which can be identified by its orange or red thorax.  See BugGuide for additional information on the American Burying Beetle.  Your individual is a member of the same genus, but it is not endangered.