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Friday, July 08, 2005

Invertebrates: American Burying Beetle


Burying beetles or sexton beetles (genus Nicrophorus) are the best-known genus within the family Silphidae of carrion beetles. Most of these beetles are black with red markings on the elytra (forewings). They bury dead birds and rodents in order to lay their eggs into the carrion. Adults take care of the brood.

Burying beetles have large chemoreceptors at the tips of their antennae, capable of detecting a dead animal from a long way away. After finding a carcass (most likely that of a small bird or a mouse), beetles fight amongst themselves (males fighting males, females fighting females) until the winning pair remain. If a lone beetle finds a carcass, it can continue alone and await a partner.

Status: Classified as Critically Endangered (CR - A1c) on the IUCN Red List 2002.


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