Wildlife Wednesday – Sexton beetles

If you read this blog regularly you may remember a couple of weeks ago I was talking about oil beetles. Will today, we discovered some carrion or sexton beetles. Now if you are in any way squeamish you may not want to read the rest of this post. The name sexton beetle comes from the British words sexton of a church – some one who would look after a graveyard. It turns out that sexton beetles are natures undertakers.

Sexton beetles will use dead mice, shrews or birds to lay their eggs in. If you look in the photo above you can see two or three beetles under the shrew.

Here the shrew had the misfortune to meet it’s death on a gravel track (probably by a feral cat that we saw hanging about today). If the body was on soil the beetles would bury their find after laying their eggs in it. Also usual among beetles is that both parents will mind the young. We are pretty sure that this one is the Nicrophorus vespilloides. I have read that the clubs on the bottom of their antennae are black while other similar species are orange.

13 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday – Sexton beetles

  1. Eliza Waters

    Great find! Carrion beetles are threatened here and are rarely seen. I came across a dead mouse late last summer that was ‘roiling’ with beetle activity. The next morning it was completely buried! Amazing creatures, and so helpful in the environment.

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  2. dust4y

    How quick off the mark they must be to bury the shrew before another creature finds it. The symmetrical markings almost look man-made – a striking looking beetle well captured.

    Liked by 1 person

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