American Burying Beetle Facts
- First of all, the term American Burying Beetle serves as the much more pronounceable name for the Nicrophorus americanus. This truly fascinating invertebrate remains notable for several reasons, not all of them good. Unfortunately, not all of them qualify as good reasons for notoriety.
- First of all, this fascinating creature remains known among researchers for its surprising approach to parenting. That’s because it represents one of the few known varieties of beetle to actually display parental care for the offspring. The vast majority of related species do not practice this trait.
- Secondly, and sadly, it also deserves attention for an unfortunate fact. That holds true due to the fact that this arthropod continues to rapidly disappear in the wild. Its endemic range once covered much of North America. But now, it only inhabits a tiny fraction of its former range.
- Due to its rapid and continued decline in population, the IUCN presently lists it as Critically Endangered. The arthropod faces numerous threats, including such factors as habitat loss and invasive species. However, its greatest threat now consists of climate change.
American Burying Beetle Physical Description
Perhaps most notably, the American Burying beetle ranks as relatively large. That’s because adults average around 1.5 in (3.8 cm) in length. In addition, it also ranks as unusual because it displays no noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism.
The bodies of both genders predominantly appear as black in color. Furthermore, most typically two bright orange-red bands appear on each wing cover. These also usually possess a somewhat scalloped shape to their structure.
Additionally, another structure behind the head resembles a shield. This structure also usually appears as orange with black edges. In addition, each antenna remains topped with a small patch of orange. The combined effect creates a rather striking appearance.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Silphidae
- Genus: Nicrophorus
- Species: N. americanus
American Burying Beetle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Having evolved as native to North America, the amazing American Burying Beetle once inhabited a vast territory. Now, however, that range has been drastically reduced. That’s because it only appears in five states, in the United States, and the Canadian province of Ontario.
This incredible beetle does appear to be able to adapt to numerous habitat types, however. As a result of this evolutionary advantage, specimens inhabit grasslands, prairies, forests, and scrubland. But, it does show a slight preference for regions of grassland.
The species apparently has specific criteria for where it lives. That holds true due to the fact that evidence indicates that the availability of adequate carrion plays a greater role than does the nature of the environment. Food and hatching place above all other factors.
Furthermore, like some similar species, this insect evolved as entirely carnivorous. While it will attack prey if necessary, it prefers to feed almost exclusively on carrion. The ready availability of this resource plays a key factor in its choice of habitats.
Males strive to locate a suitable carcass, typically something around the size of a bird and then attract a mate. After mating, the pair buries the carcass, and the female lays eggs adjacent to it. Once the eggs hatch, both parents tend the young.