The American burying beetle makes a living out of eating the dead. A male and female find and bury a small dead animal, perhaps a rodent carcass. Reproduction occurs during summer months and eggs laid nearby soon hatch into grubs (larvae) which feed on the carrion for about a week. Both the male and female help care for the larvae. Next the larvae pupate and emerge as young adults a couple months later.
This beetle is distinctive with its bright orange-red and black body. Orange-red areas can be found on both wings, the area between head and body, and on the tips of each antenna. The American burying beetle can fly over a mile at night.
Where to see them: World of the Insect
Length: Up to 1.5 in
Lifespan: 1 yr
Ecological Role: Predator, scavenger, decomposer
Habitat: Grassland and forest
Diet: Live insects and carrion
Risk Status: Species at Risk (IUCN—Critically endangered)
Losing Beetles: The American burying beetle has been eradicated from 90% of its original range.
Range: Central United States (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma) and Rhode Island
Bringing Beetles Back
The Cincinnati Zoo is part of a breeding and release program for the American burying beetle. On May 13, 2013, over 200 beetles raised at the Zoo were released at Fernald Preserve in southwestern Ohio.