Nicrophorus tomentosus

Tomentose Sexton Beetle

Nicrophorus tomentosus photo from West Virginia

Family: Silphidae

Subfamily: Nicrophorinae

Length: 11-19 mm


Characteristics to look for are the two jagged yellow or orange bands on each elytron, which reach or almost meet the suture, and yellow setae ("hairs") on the pronotum.

Members of this genus have an uncanny ability to detect and find carrion before any other insect, bird, or mammal scavengers. Relying primarily on the final three segments of their antennae, they may detect a mouse carcass one hour after the mouse's death, at a distance of up to two miles. Most members of this genus bury a small carcass to serve as a food source for their offspring. The Tomentose Burying Beetle, however, only digs a shallow hole into which the carcass sinks, and then they cover the body with leaf litter.

For more information about mites and this beetle genus, see the discussion of Nicrophorus orbicollis.

Insects of West Virginia