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:

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.


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

  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?

    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