Red-Lined Carrion Beetle

2015 July 29

On May 19, 2015, Sandy was digging a post-hole for a decorative fence she was putting up while Sam watched. And then, Sam spotted this beetle that had fallen into the hole:

It was a pretty good-sized beetle, probably 5/8 inch long or so, and it had prominent ridges in its wing covers and red markings near the wing cover tips. It also didn’t smell very good.

The eyes are quite large.

It also has a tapered abdomen projecting out beyond the ends of the wing covers.

As a final garnish, it had a nice collection of hitch-hiking mites tucked under its chin.

These features are all fairly typical of carrion beetles, and it specifically looks to be the Red-Lined Carrion Beetle, Necrodes surinamensis. And the mites are Poecilochirus mites, which actually feed on fly eggs and maggots. They are just using the beetle as a taxi service to get from one fly-ridden corpse to another.

These have fairly typical behavior for carrion beetles. They find a dead thing, lay their eggs on it, and the larvae eat both carrion and fly maggots, as the opportunity presents itself. These beetles are supposed to be particularly partial to dead birds, although they probably wouldn’t turn up their antennae at a nice, recently-deceased mouse or some such.

3 Responses
  1. July 29, 2015

    The blacks got saturated on this one. I wonder if using a gray background would have helped the camera set itself.

    By the way – my auto update feature on my blog sidebar seems to be broken. I missed a whole bunch of your posts. I need to catch up!

  2. July 30, 2015

    Yes, a different background might help. Although, it was a really, really black beetle, to the point where the blacks were saturated to the naked eye as well, so it might not have made a lot of difference.

  3. Katbird permalink
    July 30, 2015

    Loved the mites photo- thanks for being so thorough.

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