Monday, September 21, 2009

Burying Beetle

Yesterday I found a dead grey squirrel by the roadside. It was close to the roadway so I decided to move it into the ditch expecting in due course for a turkey vulture or crow to find it and clean it up. So I grabbed a stick and flung the carcass into the ditch and it uncovered a pair of unusual beetles. I didn't have a camera so couldn't take their pictures for better identification, and I am not inclined to kill them so was not able to identify them better that two black beetles with 4 orange spots. My Bugs of Ontario book identifies them as a species of Nicrophorus or burying beetles with interesting behaviours. Unusual for a beetle they actually pair up and take care of their young. Typically when they find a smaller carcass such as a mouse they will bury to hide it from competitors. This squirrel carcass was obviously far too big for these two 15 mm sized beetles and the roadside shoulder gravel was likely too hard to bury in.

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