Belongs to: beetles

Sexton beetle Nicrophorus sp.

Also known as: burying beetle


Best time to see: mid Apr to late Oct

Key facts

The undertakers of the animal world, burying decaying animals to feed their young

Widespread throughout the UK in a wide range of habitats; several species, difficult to tell apart

Attracted to lights in gardens at night

Recognition

Heavy flattened bodies, black or black with orange bands; up to 30mm

Clubbed antennae, equipped with receptors to detect rotting bodies at a distance

Often infested by reddish-brown mites (which also infest other beetle species and bumblebee queens)

Lifecycle

Male and female beetles pair up at the corpse and fight off rivals, digging beneath it to bury it

The female lays her eggs on or beside the buried body and after hatching the young eat it

The pair continue to care for their young, feeding them from the corpse

  • Main photo

Photo © Tony Gunton