Endangered Carrion Beetles Carrying On In Ohio
By Sarah Bowman
Ohio Ecological Services Field Office
Service Pathways student Sarah Bowman takes part in a reintroduction of endangered American burying beetles in Ohio. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Angela Boyer)
American burying beetles got a boost in Ohio this summer when members of the Ohio Field Office took part in a release 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 produce offspring that will survive the winter into the next year.
The federally endangered American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus), was once found in 35 states and three Canadian provinces. The American burying beetle has now been 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 the beetles to several locations within Ohio.
American burying beetles are members of the family Silphidae, which includes many species of carrion beetles. The species 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.
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.