American Burying Beetle

Nicrophorus americanus

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. 

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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.
 The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has partnered with the US Fish & Wildlife service and the Fernald Nature Preserve in rearing and releasing critically endangered American Burying Beetles. Click here to learn more or click here to learn about the American Burying Beetle Release of 2016.

Fact File

Species @ Risk Image
Species Survival Plan Image
where to see themWhere to see them: World of the Insect
lengthLength: Up to 1.5 in
life expectancyLife Expectancy: 1 yr
ecological roleEcological Role: Predator, scavenger, decomposer
habitatHabitat: Grassland and forest
dietDiet: Live insects and carrion
exclamationRisk Status: Species at Risk (IUCN—Critically endangered)