Necrophila americana

American Burying Beetle
Necrophila americana

 

Carrion Beetle Necrophila americana on reed, Jun 27, 2006 at Robinson Island, near Killarney, Ontario.
Carrion Beetle Necrophila americana on reed, Jun 27, 2006 at Robinson Island, near Killarney, Ontario.

Identification:
Head: Black. Mouth outlined with brownish-yellow line.
Antenna: Black, club-shaped (clavate).
Thorax (Pronotum): Pale yellow with a large or small black spot at center. Length of black spot varies greatly. Lower end as wide as wings (elytra), margin uneven.
Wings (Elytra): Black with a narrow, brownish-yellow stripe on wing tips. Tips pointed. Elytra rough, bark-like with 2 to 3 incomplete ridges. Elytra short, last 2 segments of abdomen exposed on male. Female wings longer.
Note: Southern U.S. populations have wings entirely black.

Carrion Beetle Necrophila americana on lichens Jun 24, 2006 at Robinson Island, near Killarney, Ontario.
Carrion Beetle Necrophila americana on lichens Jun 24, 2006 at Robinson Island, near Killarney, Ontario.

Legs: Black
Abdomen: Black.

Size: 16 to 22 mm long.

Habitat: Forests, marshes and meadows.

Food: Adults prefer fly larvae; also consume larvae of other carrion beetles that compete with their own larvae for food on fresh carrion. Also eat fungi and sap from trees.

Flight time: May to August.

Carrion Beetle Necrophila americana on sidewalk, June 16, 2013, Wheatley, Ontario.
Carrion Beetle Necrophila americana on sidewalk, June 16, 2013, Wheatley, Ontario.

Life Cycle: Mating and egg laying from April to June, performed on fresh carcasses when they are found, also on decaying fungi. Adults stay, protecting their larvae by eating all other beetle and fly larvae (10 to 12 weeks). Larva pupate under soil. Overwinters in the adult stage. One generation per year. Flies frequently through the day and said to resemble Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus ashtoni in flight.

Poecilochirus mites live on adults, but migrate to carrion and feed on eggs and fly larva, eventually returning to old, or newly hatched adults.

Comments: Essex County – Lake Erie Islands, Ojibway Prairies, Point Pelee National park. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park.

For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page

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