In the Garden, Carry On

carrionbeetleMar2014AThis week I ran into an insect that I haven’t seen very often in my garden.  It probably is too busy with auditions, having once been the headliner of its own episode of CSI NY.  Why hang around my place, far from the theater and Hollywood, although it would be a nice vacation spot away from the glare of the lights.

Meet Necrophila americana, the American Carrion Beetle.  As the name suggests, they eat dead stuff, rather like a mini-vulture of the insect world.

“Adults consume fly larvae (maggots) at carrion, as well as some carrion.” Apparently they are also cannibalistic.

They are not the only insects to enjoy the benefits of carrion. So do acrobat ants, some butterflies and, of course, a host of diptera.

I was a bit startled when I thought the dog poop winked at me.  The bright yellow pronotum of this species of carrion beetle encircles a black spot that to me looked like an eye.  This poor guy must have been slumming as I found him well hidden under a pile when I was cleaning up the yard.  I guess there was no fresh meat around, so he had to find a different source for the fly larvae needed to feed the young.

I thought there was some weird eyeball in the dirt

I thought there was some weird eyeball in the dirt

Diurnal, they also consume decaying fungi, and having come across the heavenly scented stinkhorn mushrooms, I can see the attraction.

Although I have yet to see one fly, they apparently mimic a bumblebee in flight. Given their choice of menu and with that vision in my mind, I’ll be ducking black and gold flying objects for a while.

© 2014, Loret T. Setters. All rights reserved. This article is the property of We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. says

    Eeew… icky! I can’t believe these icky beetles got featured on a TV show! Thank you for linking to your earlier post about the Light in the Sky- Everybody should read that post about the importance of darkness to wildlife.. turn off your lights!
    kathy vilim recently posted..A Butterfly Kind of Day~

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