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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.

Learn more about what the Cincinnati Zoo is doing to save American Burying Beetles.

american burying beetle on white background

Did You Know?

Losing Beetles: The American burying beetle has been eradicated from 90% of its original range.

Quick Facts

Latin Name:
Nicrophorus americanus

Central United States (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma) and Rhode Island

Grassland and forest

Up to 1.5 in

1 yr

Zoo Location:
World of the Insect

Live insects and carrion

Risk Status:
Species at Risk (IUCN—Threatened)