Carrion beetles (family Silphidae) play an important role in ecosystems by helping decomposition which gets nutrients into the soil. Some species eat dead animals while others eat dung or decayed plants. They will also use carcasses for reproduction by burying a carcass and using it to lay eggs in. The larvae hatch and use the carcass as food.
The beetle featured prominently here is the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus), an endangered species of carrion beetle found in the eastern United States. It is about 1.5 inches long (38 mm) and can be identified by the large orange spot on its pronotum.
This is the largest carrion beetle in North America and was once found in 35 states. It is now found only in 4 states: Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Nebraska.
The American burying beetle is on the list of endangered species and biologists are working to increase the populations of this species.
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