Flesh-eating beetle mistakes my old bag for a rotting corpse

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 13 June 2012 21:44

I had just put my bag down and began working in a plot at Butcherlands today when I looked up to see a large wasp-like thing buzzing around my bag. It landed on it and I realised it was one of the black and red sextons that, although I have seen them in the past moth-trapping, I have never keyed any out to species. I rushed in and was suddenly hit by the stench. I tried to get a photo but the beetle dropped off and almost vanished into the mud, these are strong beasts indeed and I was amazed how quickly it could dig. I did get a shot that was good enough to key it out from though. I am a bit squeamish about putting these in pots, the smell is unbearable and I'd rather not have them stink out my reference collection. Using the key on Beetle News I am confident this one is Nicrophorus vespillo. I always assumed these beetles primary way of finding food was olfactory. Maybe they rely on sight more though. Or maybe my bag just really stinks.

Sean Foote popped in to say hello and spotted a nice Commophila aenea. I have only seen this once before at Friston Forest (this photo was taken at Friston - the one I took today was dreadful). It's odd that a species that feeds on the roots of ragworts can be so scarce. I end the day on 4025 species. This may be the last blog for a week or two. On Friday I am heading to Ireland for a week and coming back via Anglesey and Snowdonia and this time I will be leaving the laptop at home. But not of course, my camera and an arsenal of natural history literature and equipment.,,

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