Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Carrion Beetle

Carrion Beetle - Nicrophorus orbicollis

Also know as the Sexton or Burying Beetle, this insect's name is derived from from the fact that adult beetles bury dead snakes, birds, rodents or others small mammals in a shallow excavation. The male and female work together when securing this food source for their larvae. Once the burying process (which can take several hours) is complete, they strip the fur or feathers off the carcass and coat it with secretions which slow decay and help prevent odors that might attract other insects or animals. The female then lays eggs in the soil nearby. These eggs will hatch into larvae after a few days.

The pair of beetles stay with the developing larvae until they pupate. The larvae are able to feed on their own, but to speed their development, the adults eat and partially digest bits of carrion, then regurgitate this liquefied food to their larvae. (Yummy!!!)


Anonymous said...

A bit of fascinating information. I had no idea about this beetle. I used to see "dung" beetles a lot when I was a child as everyone had cattle and horses, chickens and pigs and there was plenty of material for them to roll into balls. Into each went an egg and when the egg hatched they fed on the dung. Amazing process to watch.

Marvin said...

Yes, Abraham, I've watched a dung beetle rolling one of her marbles back to her nest. The amount of control and coordination she has is amazing. I haven't seen a dung beetle in action around here in several years, though.

Mary said...

Very interesting, Marvin. Good macro shot!

Marvin said...

Thanks, Mary.

lisa said...

Very interesting! I like the beetle's coloring, with orange accents on his antennae...quite sporty!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

A handsome beetle. It seems that beetles are quite popular right now. We have come across people that bird and they will get side tracked looking at beetles in the area. They get their 'beetle field guides' our and figure out what they see. Very interesting indeed. I have not ever seen one of these beetles. Did you take the picture on your property?

Marvin said...

Thank you, Lisa and Lisa.

The orange accents are not only attractive but distinct. They make this beetle easy to ID.

I photograph a lot more beetles and other bugs than I do birds because I can get close enough to the bugs to do a decent job.

I found the carrion beetle under our porch light during the summer. I intended to put a date on the photo when I posted, but it slipped my mind. Doh!