15 July 2009

Necrophagy in the backyard: Necrophila americana feeding on a dead shrew

CarrionBeetle1

This luckless shrew—a product of my backyard—fell victim to a certain feline whose identity may be obvious to the regular readers of this blog. The next day, these conspicuous beetles had started eating the corpse. A search in BugGuide.net identified them as the American carrion beetle or Necrophila americana; what a wonderful name.

There were times when 2, or even 3 of the beetles, accompanied with several flies, were on the shrew.

CarrionBeetle2

I also noticed these quite small flies. I have no idea what they are, although their red eyes remind me of fruit flies.

CarrionBeetle3

The only good thing that came out of this senseless waste of life—it was quite meaningful to the cat, of course—was a chance for me to observe and photograph these beetles that I had never seen before. And luckily, even in the summer heat, the odor of dead shrews, being such small mammals—this one was only about 7 cm long—is not noticeable unless you bring your nose close to them.

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