Sunday, January 4, 2015

Burying Beetle

Burying Beetle carrying phoretic mites, meaning the mites are only using the beetle for transportation.

When I came upon this beetle, it scurried in the grass in attempt to find a hiding place from me, which made it extremely difficult to maintain my focus on it.  I had my 250mm lens on my camera body and did not have time to change it as I was anticipating the beetle would soon fly away.  So, I took a chance on getting a photo or two.  When I found focus again, there was only one hitchhiker mite left on it's back.

I had no idea what this beetle was until I researched it.  These beetles are called "Burying Beetles" because they gradually bury dead animals by excavating the soil beneath them.  The female will then lay her eggs on the carrion and their larvae feed on it.  The quicker they bury the dead animal, (mice, frogs, birds), the fewer the flies.  The fly maggots are their competition for this food source.  That is why the mites ''hitchhike'' on the beetle, because they feed off of the fly maggots.

p.s. I am glad I didn't take the time to change my lens....you got it, he flew away a few seconds later!