Leave It to Me to Get the Rebellious Bugs That Defy Science

June 16, 2012


While sitting at my desk, I heard some annoying buzzing in the window next to me. I inspected the sill, and discovered a very strange bug. It looked like… well, it had the head of an ant, the thorax of a honeybee, and the abdomen of a beetle! WEIRD!!! I’d never seen anything like it at all, and I’ve seen a lot of bugs in my day. :wazzat:


I snapped a few photos and put them on Facebook, asking my pals to identify the thing. Word got around, and by the end of the day, someone figured it out– it’s a Sexton beetle, also called the burying beetle, or “undertaker” beetle.

WHY oh WHY do I get the weird bugs?! :wahh:

Being so curious. I did a little digging of my own, to learn more about the bug– especially to see if he was a noxious flesh-eating creature that would stalk my jugular while I slept… the name “burying” beetle got under my skin, I guess.

The Sexton, or burying, beetle eats… dead things. They are carrion beetles. Is your skin crawling, too? :ik: Their favorite snack is a dead rodent or bird. The beetle will dig a hole under the dead critter, essentially burying it. It will then strip the carcass of the feathers or fur, and mama beetle will lay her eggs in the carcass. There, the larvae will feed on the carcass meat!! YUKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!

This bug was TWO FEET AWAY from my tender skin! Yahhhhhhhhh!!!

Would you believe that this bug is supposedly endangered? ENDANGERED. It used to be pretty common from Maine to South Dakota and as south as Florida, but the bug is nearly extinct. The Department of Environmental Conservation says that the Sexton beetle is now only found in two locations: On Block Island, Rhode Island and in eastern Oklahoma! The University of Nebraska-Lincoln says:

The endangered American Burying Beetle [Sexton beetle], Nicrophorus americanus, formerly occurred over the eastern half of the United States but is now found in only six states. Southcentral Nebraska has one of the largest populations remaining in the country.  ….The American burying beetle is now found in only six states: Nebraska, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Kansas, and Arkansas. There are now ongoing attempts to reintroduce it into Ohio and Massachesetts [sic].

Well, some say just two states, other guys say just six states…. you know what, they are wrong on all counts! This little bugger is crawling around my house in Upstate New York!!! Well,… he was crawling around. I …. ummm…. well, I kinda…. I squished him. That was before I knew he was endangered!! So save the SWAT team for another day.

Leave it to ME to host — and squish— one of the rarest bugs in North America…. *sigh* :meh:

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5 Responses to “Leave It to Me to Get the Rebellious Bugs That Defy Science”

  1. akaGaGa Says:

    I’d be more worried that he’s hanging around your house because he likes dead things. Anybody missing? Checked the cellar lately?

  2. Christiana Szymanski Says:

    Eeeew! Well, I’m glad you finally figured out what kind of creature that was… if nobody had come forward with a possibility, I might have said it was the missing link between bees and beetles! LOL X) Alas, the warmer weather brings weird bugs… yesterday, we had a jumping spider IN OUR HOUSE; may not sound like much, but it looked like the poisonous, black widow spider except that it had a whitish-yellow dot on its back instead of a red one. Eeek! Anyhow, glad you got rid of that critter!

  3. lin Says:

    Ewwww. It’s a good thing that you found him before he found you!!

  4. Cindi @ Moomettes Magnificents Says:

    Did you end up emailing the photo to NY Dept Conservation? Glad you identified it! Will be traveling to Block Island this summer so will be on the lookout for your critter!

  5. Jenn LeBlanc Says:


    I am not sure that you have the right species. I see that you have a burying/sexton beetle but there are almost 70 species. The endangered American carrion beetle has a distinctive orange pronotum that your beetle does not have as well as orange tipped antennae.


    Send your pics to those guys. They will ID them for you.