Home / Carrion Beetles (Silphidae) / American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

American burying beetle indigenous to North America has been enlisted by the IUCN as critically endangered. As their name suggests, these beetles feed on carrion and even need them for breeding.

Some of the common causes for their endangerment include loss of habitat, degradation, and alteration in their surroundings. Due to climate change and transformation in the land conditions, the numbers of several small and medium-sized birds declined rapidly. Hence, these beetles went out of food and even were not able to reproduce. Another cause detected for a reduction in their population was the rapid use of pesticides in areas where they inhabited.

American Burying Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Silphidae
  • Genus: Nicrophorus
  • Scientific name: Nicrophorus americanus

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 25 – 35 mm (0.98 – 1.37 inches)

Color: It has a black body with four orange-red patches (two on each side) on its elytra. The pronotum also has markings of orange-red, while their face and antennae tips have shades of orange.

Other Characteristic Features: These beetles appear shiny with a shield-like projection at the back of their head.

Nicrophorus americanus

Larva

The larva hatches in four days from the eggs laid, and the parents stroke and feed the young ones. This trait, relatively uncommon in insects, is also seen in the earwig. The male and female adult beetles have a unique way of feeding the larva. They consume some of the carcasses and then regurgitate them into the mouth of the larvae. The larval stage continues for about 6 – 12 days, after which the pupal phase starts.        

American Burying Beetle Larvae

Pupa

These beetles’ pupa stage occurs in the soil where the larva takes shelter after feeding on the carcass. It spans between 45 and 60 days, after which the adult beetles emerge.

Egg

The small, round eggs are laid in a tunnel the female makes in the soil.

Quick Facts

Other NamesGiant carrion beetle
Adult lifespanAbout four months
Duration of larval stage6 – 12 days
DistributionThroughout North America
HabitatOpen grasslands, oak-hickory forests
Seasons active fromLate April – September
Diet of larvae and adultsCarrion, and decayed vegetation
Giant Carrion Beetle

Did You Know

  • Initially, they lived in about 35 states in North America, which has come down to just five – Rhode Island, Arkansas, Ontario, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
  • In a bid to conserve the American burying beetle, biologists have attempted to raise them in the laboratory, particularly in Nantucket Island and Pekingese Island in Massachusetts.
American Burying Beetle Picture

Image Source: fws.gov, pbs.twimg.com, photos1.blogger.com, 64.media.tumblr.com, fws.gov

American burying beetle indigenous to North America has been enlisted by the IUCN as critically endangered. As their name suggests, these beetles feed on carrion and even need them for breeding.

Some of the common causes for their endangerment include loss of habitat, degradation, and alteration in their surroundings. Due to climate change and transformation in the land conditions, the numbers of several small and medium-sized birds declined rapidly. Hence, these beetles went out of food and even were not able to reproduce. Another cause detected for a reduction in their population was the rapid use of pesticides in areas where they inhabited.

American Burying Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 25 – 35 mm (0.98 – 1.37 inches)

Color: It has a black body with four orange-red patches (two on each side) on its elytra. The pronotum also has markings of orange-red, while their face and antennae tips have shades of orange.

Other Characteristic Features: These beetles appear shiny with a shield-like projection at the back of their head.

Nicrophorus americanus

Larva

The larva hatches in four days from the eggs laid, and the parents stroke and feed the young ones. This trait, relatively uncommon in insects, is also seen in the earwig. The male and female adult beetles have a unique way of feeding the larva. They consume some of the carcasses and then regurgitate them into the mouth of the larvae. The larval stage continues for about 6 – 12 days, after which the pupal phase starts.        

American Burying Beetle Larvae

Pupa

These beetles’ pupa stage occurs in the soil where the larva takes shelter after feeding on the carcass. It spans between 45 and 60 days, after which the adult beetles emerge.

Egg

The small, round eggs are laid in a tunnel the female makes in the soil.

Quick Facts

Other NamesGiant carrion beetle
Adult lifespanAbout four months
Duration of larval stage6 – 12 days
DistributionThroughout North America
HabitatOpen grasslands, oak-hickory forests
Seasons active fromLate April – September
Diet of larvae and adultsCarrion, and decayed vegetation
Giant Carrion Beetle

Did You Know

  • Initially, they lived in about 35 states in North America, which has come down to just five – Rhode Island, Arkansas, Ontario, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
  • In a bid to conserve the American burying beetle, biologists have attempted to raise them in the laboratory, particularly in Nantucket Island and Pekingese Island in Massachusetts.
American Burying Beetle Picture

Image Source: fws.gov, pbs.twimg.com, photos1.blogger.com, 64.media.tumblr.com, fws.gov

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