21 October 2008

Carrion beetle Nicrophorus tomentosus on dead shrew


I encountered this dead shrew and the beetle that may have been trying to bury it near the beginning of September. Whenever I come upon a scene like this that has a live animal in it, I try to take one picture right away before making any adjustments to the camera or even getting closer to the subject so that if the animal flees I will have at least one picture that may end up being a usable one. In this case, this was one of the 2 pictures I took; the other one is more or less the same. And then I tried to turn the shrew over to get a better shot of the beetle—because it kept crawling under the shrew—but I guess it didn't like the disturbance and disappeared among the grass.

After I posted this picture on BugGuide.net, the beetle got identified as Nicrophorus tomentosus. Apparently, these beetles bury the small dead animals they found and lay eggs on them. If I hadn't interfered, perhaps I would have had a chance to watch it happen.

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