Burying Beetle

Nicrophorus

About

Burying beetles are the undertakers of the animal world - a group of large beetles that bury dead and decaying animals such as mice and small birds. Burying beetles can be found wherever there are corpses for them to feed on, and often fly into lights at night. Males and females pair-up at the corpse and will fight off rivals to take charge of it and bury it. The female lays her eggs on or beside the buried body and the resulting larvae eat the rotting corpse. Burying beetles are unusual in the beetle-world for the fact that both males and females continue to care for the larvae after they hatch - feeding them from the corpse. Their antennae are equipped with receptors that are able to detect rotting bodies from metres, even kilometres, away.

How to identify

Burying beetles are chunky, flattened beetles, often black or black and red in colour. There are several species of burying beetle in Britain which can be difficult to tell apart.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Many of our commonly overlooked insects are actually important nutrient-recyclers and pest controllers in the habitats they live in. Minibeasts can be encouraged into the garden by the provision of logs, stone piles and compost heaps for them to hide, feed and breed in. In turn, other species will be attracted to the garden, as minibeasts are a food source for many animals, including mammals, birds and amphibians, providing a vital link in the food chain. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Burying Beetle
Latin name
Nicrophorus
Category
Invertebrates
Beetles
Statistics
Length: up to 3cm
Conservation status
Common.