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Endangered Carrion Beetles Carrying On
Midwest Region, June 11, 2013
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From front to back, Ohio field office biologists Donnie Knight, Jenny Finfera and Angie Boyer along with Ohio State University biologist George Keeney assist at the American burying beetle release a the Wilds near Zanesville, Ohio. Beetles were released on June 11, 2013.
From front to back, Ohio field office biologists Donnie Knight, Jenny Finfera and Angie Boyer along with Ohio State University biologist George Keeney assist at the American burying beetle release a the Wilds near Zanesville, Ohio. Beetles were released on June 11, 2013. - Photo Credit: Sarah Bowman
Ohio Field Office Pathways intern Sarah Bowman holds an American burying beetle at the release at the Wilds near Zanesville, Ohio, on June 11, 2013.
Ohio Field Office Pathways intern Sarah Bowman holds an American burying beetle at the release at the Wilds near Zanesville, Ohio, on June 11, 2013. - Photo Credit: Angie Boyer

The federally endangered American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus), was once found in 35 states and three Canadian provinces. Currently, the species is extirpated from around 90 percent of its original range. In the past several years, the Ohio Field Office has been part of a multi-agency effort to reintroduce American burying beetle to several locations within Ohio.

 American burying beetles are members of the family Silphidae, which includes many species of carrion beetles. They have an interesting life cycle that starts in the summer when a male and female pair find a carcass. The pair will dig out the soil from underneath the carcass to bury the animal. The carcass will serve as a food source for the pair and the female will lay eggs on or near the carcass. Larval beetles are fed by the adult beetles until they are mature enough to take care of themselves. As adults, the beetles only survive one year. After overwintering, the process will begin again.

On June 11, 2013, members of the Ohio Field Office assisted with a release event at the Wilds near Zanesville, Ohio. Forty-eight pairs of beetles that were reared by Wilds biologists were released on the property. Biologists dug shallow holes and placed a pair of beetles (along with carrion) into the holes. The holes were then covered with soil, and protective mesh (to keep out competitors and predators). The hope is that the beetle pairs will copulate, lay eggs, and the offspring will survive the winter into the next year.

Biologists hope that by providing pairs with a new home and carrion, the beetles will be able to carry on and begin to produce a new thriving population in Ohio.


Contact Info: Sarah Bowman, 614-416-8993 ext. 18, sarah_bowman@fws.gov



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