Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Beetles on a Snake

I've got a sizable queue of photographs to share and topics to write about, but what Steph and I discovered yesterday evening deserves a quick post of its own. Near the bike trail we spotted a dead red-bellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) being eaten by several burying beetles (Nicrophorus sp.). I didn't have my camera on me, but I did have my iPhone, which can take a surprisingly decent video:

video

It's interesting to note the mites that are swarming the beetles (and the snake carcass), as well as the noises the beetles are making to one another.

Here's a closer look at a burying beetle, photographed in June when I was doing some blacklighting in the backyard. It, too, is covered in mites:

Burying beetles, like carrion beetles, are in the Silphidae family. They're extremely important insect scavengers and play a large role in carcass decomposition.

3 comments:

  1. Cool Jorie! If there's a weekend that you'll be black lighting again I'd like to join you. Looks like fun!

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  2. Will you take the bones with you when the beetles work is done? What are these orange dots on the back of the beetle?

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    1. The snake was far too teeny for me to keep – no longer than six or seven inches!

      The orange dots on the beetles are mites. In this case they seem to be hitch-hiking on the backs of the beetles, so they can move from carcass to carcass. The second paragraph in this article has a little bit of information about them - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicrophorus_vespilloides

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