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  • Burying Beetle - (Nicrophorus spp.)

    Burying Beetle - (Nicrophorus spp.)

    Burying Beetles are efficient consumers of small, dead vertebrates making them a critical part of the food web.

    Picture of Burying Beetle
    Staff Writer (6/19/2014): Adult Burying Beetles will bury a dead bird or small mammal, removing feathers and hair. It is then formed into a ball shape before females lay eggs on the carcass. It is then covered up with soil or plant debris. Once the eggs hatch, the emerging larvae feed on the remains of the animal. In some species, the parents help feed the newly hatched larvae.

    Adults feed on carrion themselves as well as rotting fruit and maggots, a competitor to their own larvae. If disturbed, they can produce a raspy, buzzing sound that is similar to a bee by rubbing their abdomen against the elytra (wing covering). That noise, and the similar coloration, may aid the Burying Beetle in avoiding conflicts with potential predators. The noise also believed to be a call to newly hatched larvae to feed.

    Various species of Burying Beetle can be found in North America. Their habitat includes fields, meadows and forests (deciduous and mixed woods). Activity at night is usual and they have clubbed antennae, meaning they end in red or orange colored 'balls'.

    Because they consume dead or rotting material at both life stages, Burying Beetles help return nutrients to the food web quickly. Though their choice of food source is unappealing to humans, their position in a food web makes their existence and proliferation just as important as a primary producer's.

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    Details of the:
    Burying Beetle

    Category: Beetle
    Common name: Burying Beetle
    Scientific Name: Nicrophorus spp.

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Acari
          Family: Silphidae
           Genus: Nicrophorus
            Species: spp.

    Size (Adult, Length): 12mm to 22mm (0.47in to 0.87in)

    Identifying Colors: black, red, yellow, orange

    Additional Descriptors: flying, checkered, antennae club, helpful

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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