Nicrophorus vespilloides

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Nicrophorus vespilloides
Nicrophorus vespilloides5.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Silphidae
Genus: Nicrophorus
Species: N. vespilloides
Binomial name
Nicrophorus vespilloides
Herbst, 1783
  • N. aurora Motschulsky, 1860
  • N. defodiens oregonensis Hatch, 1927
  • N. hebes Kirby, 1837
  • N. mortuorum Fabricius, 1792
  • N. pygmaeus Kirby, 1837
  • N. vespilloides altumi Westhoff, 1881
  • N. v. aurora Portevin, 1924
  • N. v. borealis Portevin, 1914a
  • N. v. oregonensis Swann & Papp, 1972
  • N. v. fractus Portevin, 1914
  • N. v. vespilloides Madge, 1958
  • N. v. subfasciatus Portevin, 1914
  • N. v. subinterrupta Roubal, 1934
  • N. v. subinterruptus Pic, 1917
  • N. v. sylvaticus Reitter, 1895
  • N. v. sylvivagus Reitter, 1897
  • Silpha mortuorum Marsham, 1802
  • S. vespilloides Crotch, 1873
  • S. v. hebes Crotch, 1873

Nicrophorus vespilloides is a burying beetle described by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Herbst in 1783.

Besides the many interesting behaviors this beetle exhibits,[1][2] it is of interest because in North America it is restricted to Sphagnum bogs and marshes,[3][4] whereas in Europe and throughout the Palearctic it is found in open forest habitats. The restriction of N. vespilloides to bogs in the North America has been attributed to competition with its congener, N. defodiens which in this area is found in forest habitats. N. vespilloides reproduces exclusively in bogs in North America and is never found in adjacent (<100 m or 330 ft) forested habitat in the Mer Bleue bog area near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.[5]

Beetles Nicrophorus vespilloides and Oiceoptoma thoracicum perusing an unidentified small carcass.

There are also a number of phoretic (hitch-hiking) mites that are associated with N. vespilloides. These include Pelzneria nr. crenulata, Macrocheles merderius, and Uroobovella nr. novasimilis and the largest mite Poecilochirus carabi.[6] P. carabi is not attached by any physical means (such as a secreted anal stalk in the case of M. merderius) to N. vespilloides. When the males or females of N. vespilloides have finished breeding on a carcass the deutonymphs of P. carabi roam freely about the body of the beetles as they search for new carcasses to reproduce. It had been proposed that P. carabi deutonymphs, on arrival at a new carcass dismounted from the beetles and consumed fly eggs and larvae which would have competed for the beetle larvae for food.[7] This relationship which benefited the beetles has been described as mutualistic.[8][9] However, it has been shown that adults of P. carabi consume the eggs of N. vespilloides and that this has direct and negative effects on the reproduction of this beetle species.[10]

N. vespilloides is also used as a model organism in the study of social immunity.


  1. ^ B. Kalinová; H. Podskalská; J. Růžička; M. Hoskovec (2009). "Irresistible bouquet of death – how are burying beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae: Nicrophorus attracted by carcasses?". Naturwissenschaften. 96 (8): 889–899. doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0545-6. PMID 19404598. 
  2. ^ Craig A. Walling; Clare E. Stamper; Claire L. Salisbury; Allen J. Moore (2009). "Experience does not alter alternative mating tactics in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides". Behavioral Ecology. 20 (1): 153–159. doi:10.1093/beheco/arn127. 
  3. ^ Robert S. Anderson (1982). "Resource partitioning in the carrion beetle (Coleoptera: Silphidae) fauna of southern Ontario: ecological and evolutionary considerations". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 60 (6): 1314–1325. doi:10.1139/z82-178. 
  4. ^ Clifford W. Beninger & Stewart B. Peck (1992). "Temporal and spatial patterns of resource use among Nicrophorus in a Sphagnum bog and adjacent forest near Ottawa, Canada". The Canadian Entomologist. 124 (1): 79–86. doi:10.4039/Ent12479-1. 
  5. ^ Clifford W. Beninger (1994). "Phenology, reproductive biology and habitat associations of Nicrophorus Fab. (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of the Mer Bleue bog area (Ottawa, Canada)". Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada. 126 (169): 135–143. doi:10.4039/entm126169135-1. 
  6. ^ Clifford W. Beninger (1989). A study of the ecology and reproductive biology of the carrion beetle assemblage in the Mer Bleue Bog area with specific reference to the habitat associations of Nicrophorus vespilloides Herbst and N. defodiens Mannerheim (Coleoptera: Silphidae) (M.Sc. thesis). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Carleton University. 
  7. ^ B. P. Springett (1968). "Aspects of the relationship between burying beetles, Necrophorus spp., and the mite, Poecilochirus necrophori Vitz". Journal of Animal Ecology. 37 (2): 417–424. JSTOR 2957. 
  8. ^ David Sloan Wilson (1983). "The effect of population structure on the evolution of mutualism: a field test involving burying beetles and their phoretic mites". The American Naturalist. 121 (6): 851–870. doi:10.1086/284108. JSTOR 2460857. 
  9. ^ David Sloan Wilson & W. G. Knollenberg (1987). "Adaptive indirect effects: the fitness of burying beetles with and without their phoretic mites". Evolutionary Ecology. 1 (2): 139–159. doi:10.1007/BF02067397. 
  10. ^ Clifford W. Beninger (1993). "Egg predation by Poecilochirus carabi (Mesostigmata: Parasitidae) and its effect on reproduction of Nicrophorus vespilloides (Coleoptera:Silphidae)". Environmental Entomology. 22 (4): 766–769.