Fun American Carrion Beetle Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
May 03, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
American carrion beetle facts about a group of 46 different kinds of beetles found in North America.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

Do you know a bug that helps the environment as a recycler, clearing decaying corpses? Here, you get to learn more about this unique species of bug known as the American carrion beetle.

The American carrion beetle (insect order Coleoptera) are decomposers that play a vital role in ecology by feeding on the carcass of dead animals. Just like a mouse, the carrion beetles dig the ground from under the body of decaying animals.

Though tiny they are, these insects use their blades to dig the holes and decompose the dead body in minutes. These beetles are macroinvertebrates and blend easily in the environment.

These ultimate recyclers smell terrible because they store a smelly odor that irritates the other bugs or small animals. They spray this horrible odor on the predators to save themselves.

Read through this article for more fascinating facts about this species. To learn more about other beetles, visit our articles on the longhorn beetle and dung beetle.

American Carrion Beetle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American Carrion Beetle?

An American carrion beetle is an insect that belongs to the Silphidae family. They resemble bumblebees in flight.

What class of animal does an American Carrion Beetle belong to?

The Americal carrion beetle or Giant carrion beetle belongs to the class Insecta. They are widely spread in North America.

How many American Carrion Beetles are there in the world?

The exact number of these species is unknown, but you can expect them in large numbers, and are essential scavengers that help the environment.

Where do American Carrion Beetles live?

These carrion beetles are widely spread in Eastern and North American forest areas, and also in Southern parts of the USA throughout the year. Places where they are found range from Texas to Florida, Minnesota to southeastern Canada.

What is an American Carrion Beetle's habitat?

The adults are active in summer and prefer moist habitats. They are mostly found near animal carcasses, leaf litter, rotten food, and fruits. The natural habitats of these carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) are grasslands, savannahs, and prairies.

Who do American Carrion Beetles live with?

The American carrion beetles (Silphidae) live in groups called a colony or swarms of beetles. They are found in closely packed groups and work together near decaying bodies. Carrion beetles have small insects that sit on their backs, such as mites; they fly along with the beetles and eat maggots' eggs laid on the carcasses.

How long does an American Carrion Beetle live?

On average, the carrion beetles live forabout four to six months.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction starts from late May-mid to July. The adults do not immediately arrive at the carcass; they take some time and arrive at the decaying stage when the maggot (type of decomposer) consumes the body.

When the decomposition process starts, these beetles arrive and start feeding on the flesh of the carcass, fly larvae that are already present on the corpse. Mating also takes place at the same time.

Internal fertilization occurs when adult females mate with more than one male, and eggs are laid in the food sources themselves. After hatching, the larva comes out and starts to feed on carcasses and brownish liquid generated by the parents.

Once matured, the larvae fall on the ground and enter the soil to pupate. Pupate is a pale one with wings folded and legs retracted.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these species is Not listed by IUCN.

American Carrion Beetle Fun Facts

What do American Carrion Beetles look like?

Adult beetles have oval and flattened bodies. They may measure up to 0.5-0.78 in(13-20 mm).

These medium-sized beetles have a pronotum with a yellow and black spot in between; the thorax part is extended to a unique quadrilateral-shaped structure. The elytra are black and rough, covering the hindlegs and abdomen. With short legs, medium-sized eyes, and a pair of antennae in the front part of its body has a gross look.

At the same time, the larva is on average 0.27-0.98 in (7-25 mm) in length, with well-developed legs and a pair of small antennae. The larva is fast and curls up if any threats.

Some of the carrion beetles are in bright colors like yellow or red and are assumed to be poisonous. So these bright colors help to warn the predators.

Oval and flattened body of adult American Carrion beetles.

How cute are they?

Because of their dependency on carcasses, they may not be considered cute creatures though they are essential to the environment.

How do they communicate?

They possess chemical defenses, a strong smelly odor that might irritate the predators. Carrion beetles generally work in pairs to bury the corpse. It can sense the carcass from a distance (2 mi away) using chemical receptors.

How big is American Carrion Beetle?

The length of these beetles ranges from 0.5-0.78 in (13-20 mm). The Burying beetle is double the size of the American Carrion beetle.

How fast can American Carrion Beetles move?

The speed of American Carrions is not known, but these Carrion beetles barge with their six legs and compete with maggots in feeding on the corpse. They have some sharp weapon that helps to win over the maggots and consumes more food.

Their flexible body and wings help to crawl under the body of dead animals and succeed in pulling the corpse inside the ground in no time. Adults are active fliers and prefer to fly during the daytime.

How much does an American Carrion Beetle weigh?

The weight of the corpse is directly proportional to the number of larvae produced. The idle weight of these species is not known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male species is called a male American carrion beetle and females are called female American carrion beetles.

What would you call a baby American Carrion Beetle?

The baby American carrion beetle is called a larva. They are black and appeared to be armed. The interesting part is both adults and larvae also feed on other fly larvae.

What do they eat?

The American carrion beetle has got its name as it depends on dead creatures for its food. Both adults and larvae of this insect feed on decaying animals and plants. Apart from the flesh, they also feed rotten fruit, fungi, maggots, dried skin, and muscle tissues of dead animals.

How much damage can American Carrion Beetles do to the garden?

The American carrion beetle decomposes the dead plants, thus increasing the soil's nutrient value. But at the same time, they sometimes eat crops and occupy inhabited human places. They act as decomposers as well as pests. The larva primarily damages the leaves of sugarbeets.

Would they make a good pet?

We do not think these insects would make good pets. They feed on carcasses and have a foul smell. Although they are useful and important in the ecosystem, they would not seem so great in the house as a pet and are best left outside in nature.

Did you know...

The population of American Carrions is declining because of pesticides and a decrease in habitats.

American Carrions have a habit of chewing the food; they may even bite the predators that come in their way.

What attracts American Carrion Beetles?

Corpses, fungi, and decaying plants attract these species (Coleoptera: Silphidae), and they are also attracted to rotten fruits.

What is the difference between the American Carrion Beetle and the Burying Beetle?

The American carrion beetle has a yellow and black color combination structure, whereas the Burying beetle has a bright orange-red patch on its shiny black structure. the American burying beetle is the biggest of all beetles (1.5 in or 3.81 cm).

For an American carrion beetle, the larva emerges from the egg after six days of incubation and takes 10-12 weeks to develop into an adult. The Burying beetle takes four days of incubation and takes 48-60 days to develop into an adult.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our giant African millipede facts, and atlas beetle fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable American carrion beetle coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

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Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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