Boreal Carrion Beetle
Head: Shiny black.
Antenna: Entirely black, clubbed. Last 2 or 3 segments have 2 oblong spots of white hair, one smaller than the other on each segment. Often described as a figure-eight pattern.
Thorax (Pronotum): Black, duller than head, rounded, slightly lumpy. Indented line down centre does not reach lower margin. Wide flat rim or edge on 3 sides, corners rounded.
Wings (Elytra): Black, shiny. Large, wide orange patch across wings near center, margins wavy. Main ID: Orange extends to underside and curves up to shoulder (outer edge of wing base), leaving a small black circle. Small orange patch on each lower wing. V-shaped area (scutellum) at center base of wings is large, tip rounded. Underside with dense brownish-yellow hair.
Legs: Black. Hind shin straight, wider at tip. Males have pads of brownish-yellow hair on underside of feet.
Similar Species: Nicrophorus defodiens and N. vespilloides are the only two Nicrophorus with entirely black antenna. N. defodiens is nearly identical, but the red on wings does not wrap around sides and reappear as a small red spot on top outer shoulder edge as in N. vespilloides. Nicrophorus defodiens is found in forest habitats, N. vespilloides in marshes.
Size: 12 to 16 mm.
Habitat: Restricted to wet areas, bogs, marshes usually in boreal forest areas.
Food: Small, fresh carrion.
Flight Time: Early May to August.
Life Cycle: Mating takes place on carrion. Adults then sink the animal by digging beneath it, pasting it with body secretions to soften and preserve. Then it is covered with leaves. The female digs a tunnel next to carrion and lays eggs. Adults stay on carcass and help feed their young. Larvae pupate in soil, hatching by August or September and overwinter as unmated (teneral) adults.
Mites from many different families hitch rides from one carrion location to another on Nicrophorus species. They leave them to feed on fly eggs and larva, but can also devour Nicrophorus eggs as well.
Comments: Ontario – Cochrane County; Toronto and north. Rare.
For information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page