The 12-24 mm long churchyard beetle (Necrophorus vespillo) has characteristic yellow-orange cross-bands on the wing covers. It belongs to the carrion beetle family.
Foto © James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster, Wikimedia
The caring parents of the churchyard beetle
Carrion is a resource used by many animal species as a source of energy. A conspicuous representative of these so-called necrophages is the churchyard beetle. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats and, together with flies, quickly appears on all kinds of animal carcasses. Males and females of the churchyard beetle then bury the carcass together, which can take hours for dead mice or birds. The female lays eggs in the surrounding soil and the hatched larvae are then fed by both parents with the decaying carcass meat. The parents therefore actively care for the larvae, which is extremely rare in insects. The older larvae then feed themselves independently, pupate and the next generation of churchyard beetles is ready to colonize a new carcass.