10 Beetles that eat dead animals (with Pictures)

Carrion beetles play a huge role in the environment. By decomposing carrion or dead or by feeding on fly larvae or maggots, they keep the population of these insects in control. Carrion beetles keep the nutrient cycle in the ecosystem running and also eliminate foul dead odors from the air. In today’s article, we are going to talk about 10 Beetles that eat dead animals.

1. American Carrion Beetle

Beetles that eat dead animals
Image Source: MDC Teacher Portal

The adults are 13.8–20 mm long, wide, and conspicuous beetles. They often have an erratic central black spot on their yellow thorax. Females’ black, rough elytra typically have yellow brushed onto the apical points.

They appear like bumblebees when in flight. Adults of this species consume carrion as well as fly maggots. The black larvae have an armored appearance.

Scientific name: Necrophila americana
Location: North America

2. Giant Carrion Beetle

Giant Carrion Beetle
Image Source: MDC Teacher Portal

The Giant Carrion Beetle or the American Burying Beetle measure 25 to 45 mm in length and are recognized by their distinctive, unusual color.

Each wing cover has two scalloped, orange-red patterns, and the body is lustrous black. The adult moves up to a kilometer in a single night thanks to its strong nighttime flight.

An unusually shaped orange-red facial mark below the frons can be used to separate the sexes. Swarms of orange-colored mites are frequently present on the bodies of burying beetles. Beetles and carcasses are kept free of germs and fly eggs, thanks to them.

Scientific name: Nicrophorus americanus
Location: endemic to North America

3. Ridged Carrion Beetle

Ridged Carrion Beetle
Image Source: BugGuide.net

The elytra of this species are black and have elevated (ridged) lines. The underside of the elytra is vivid blue while in flight. They are made to be able to go underneath and through the dead bodies, thanks to their flattened bodies.

They appear a few days after an animal dies because they are drawn to the smell of dead things. As adults, these beetles do not consume the actual carrion, despite what their common name might imply. Instead, they are there to eat the carrion-eating maggots, while the larvas eat the carrion.

Scientific name: Oiceoptoma inaequale
Location: native to Eastern North America

4. Margined Carrion Beetle

Margined Carrion Beetle
Image Source: BugGuide.net

The salmon-colored bands on its black thorax are what give the Margined Carrion Beetle its common name. The tips of the black antennas are huge orange spheres. They are about a half-inch and smaller than some of their cousins.

Adults are flattened to make it easier for them to move underneath their bodies. While adults eat carrion and fly maggots, the larvae consume carrion.

The entire existence of the Margined Burying Beetle is advantageous to the ecology since it purifies habitats, recycles nutrients through its food, and eliminates the odor of decaying flesh from the atmosphere.

Scientific name: Nicrophorus mariginatus
Location: throughout eastern North America

5. Diamesus osculans

Diamesus osculans
Image Source: iNaturalist

The next beetle on this list of beetles that eat dead animals is the Diamesus osculans. It is the largest species of the subfamily Silphinae’s carrion beetles, which are frequently seen on decomposing corpses.

There are two species of this huge carrion beetle, which are found in Australia and tropical Asia. The larvae resemble cockroaches in that they are flat and broad (blattiform).

Location: Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines

6. Red-lined Carrion Beetle

Red Lined Carrion Beetle
Image Source: BugGuide.net

Red-Lined Carrion Beetles, also known as Suriname Carrion Beetles, are quite large beetles that can grow up to 25 mm, or about 1 inch, in length. Large eyes and a black body with conspicuous elevated elytral ridges give them away and have a crimson tint occasionally.

Adults seek carrion and mate on or close to the carcass. There, they eat fly larvae for food. This species is highly drawn to dead birds and has chemical defense like other carrion beetles.

Scientific name: Necrodes surinamensis
Location: East of Rocky Mountains, Montana, Utah

7. Roundneck Sexton Beetle

Roundneck Sexton beetle
Image Source: BugGuide.net

The Roundneck Sexton Beetle can be identified by its vivid orange elytral patterns. The elytra’s dorsal side is coated in long, fine bristle-like hairs, especially on the lateral side of the body.

The adult form measures 15–22 mm (0.59–0.87 in) in length, which is a medium size. Saprophagous feeding is known to occur in N. orbicollis. The larvae receive these nutrients from the adults as well as the protein from smaller, rotting carcasses.

Scientific name: Nicrophorus orbicollis
Location: North America and Canada

8. Red-breasted carrion Beetle

Red Breasted Carrion Beetle
Image Source: NatureSpot

In the 8th position of this list of beetles that eat dead animals, we have a beetle that stands out for its bright orange and black coloration and odd flat body form. The Red-breasted carrion beetle is typically a wooded species.

It belongs to the family of carrion or burying beetles called Silphidae. Compared to the majority of its family members, this species uses a distinct tactic. 

Both the adults and their larvae spend most of their lives decomposing animal carcasses or plant materials. However, they feed on the other insects and larvae that exist there rather than on this organic matter.

Scientific name: Oiceoptoma thoracica
Location: Widespread in the United Kingdom

9. Oxelytrum discicolle

Oxelytrum disciolle
Image Source: iNaturalist UK

On the scutellum, the adults display vibrant colors and range in length from 10 to 35 mm. O. discicolle can be found in both urban and seasonal kinds of wood, both at high altitudes, and prefers moist habitats.

The larval forms are typically scavengers, whilst the adult forms are omnivorous (or, more preferable, scavengers), have a wide range of feeding preferences, and can consume fly larvae and decomposing animal substrate.

In addition to being more prevalent during wet seasons, O. discicolle exhibits a strong affinity to carcasses that have already begun to decompose.

Scientific name: Oxelytrum discicolle
Location: Central, North, and South America

10. Phosphuga atrata

Phosphuga atrata
Image Source: UkrBin

The last beetle on this list of Beetles that eat dead animals is the Phosphuga atrata. The beetle, which can grow up to 15mm in length, utilizes its long neck to reach into the shells of snails and spray them with a digesting fluid.

After briefly dissolving the mucus and the snail tissue, the salivary secretion penetrates the shell and starts eating. The beetle consumes carrion as well as living snails, insects, and earthworms.

Adults can be found in various mainly wet locations, such as meadows, gardens, and damp grasslands, where they survive and reproduce for many years.

Scientific name: Phosphuga atrata
Location: Eurasia, mainly Europe, Russia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, India, etc.

Now, we come to the end of our today’s article, 10 Beetles that eat dead animals. We will be back with  another informative article, so stay tuned until then.

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