American Carrion Beetle

The American Carrion Beetle (Necrophila Americana) is much more attractive than I would expect a carrion beetle to be!

DSC_9660American carrion beetle

Not only do they eat carrion, but they also eat fly and beetle larvae, dung, rotting fruit and fungus. These are in the group of beetles that work in pairs to excavate soil under small, dead animals and encase them in earth. Their flat body allows them to squeeze under dead animals. It stops the carcasses from drying out and also stops other species from laying eggs in the carcasses that will compete for food when their own larvae hatch. They seem to like the dryer parts of carrion, like the hide and sinew.

They overwinter and reproduce in late spring, producing one brood per year. As with the dragonflies and damselflies, it seems the males are bullies when it comes to reproducing with a female. He grasps the female’s antennae with his mandible and hangs on until she agrees to mate. It doesn’t end there. He continues to hold onto her antennae until the eggs and larvae are present at a carcass.

They look like they have a hard shell, but they do actually have wings, so they can fly to carrion. Apparently they look a little like a bee when they fly. I love their little tails!


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