This federally endangered beetle hasn’t had a reproducing population in Ohio since 1974. For the last ten years, conservationists from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have released captive-reared beetles, but have been unable to find any surviving offspring after the released adults finish their short lifespan.
This last year conservationists released 472 captive-reared beetles from large, more cold-hardy stock and finally found new, overwintered beetles. Another participating institution, the Cincinnati Zoo, also found overwintered beetles for the first time this year.
Burying beetles are one of the few beetles to show monogamy and extended parental care. When it’s time to reproduce, a mated pair of burying beetles finds the carcass of a small bird or mammal, digs underneath it to submerge the carcass in the earth, and then raises their larva inside the carcass (larva even beg for food from their parents like baby birds).
While it may sound gross, burying beetles do important work cleaning up dead animals, recycling nutrients, and limiting the spread of disease.
It’s unclear what caused the American burying beetle to decline in the first place, but one theory is that the extinction of the passenger pigeon harmed them by removing a large source of appropriately-sized carcasses (though multiple factors were likely involved).
“Our mission is to make sure that we’re looking out for all wildlife, not just the cute and fuzzy ones.”
July 10, 2019
Oh hey, I was involved in this!!
Incredible beetles, really. Larger than you’d think! The males have a large, orange rectangle on the head while the females have a small red-ish triangle.
This one on my hand is a female! It’s a bit hard to see, but there’s a small triangle below the large patch on the head.
Both a male and a female, along with a dead r.at, were placed into a hole with the hopes that they would breed. I’m happy to report that recently they were checked on and lots of beetle larvae were found!
(This one is a male!)
LOOK AT THOSE BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN!!!!!!
Thanks for sharing! That’s so awesome!!!
July 10, 2019