Black sexton beetle Nicrophorus humator at Torbreck

May 27th 2015

This large beetle was found in my moth trap at Torbreck (NC0824) on May 22nd 2015.

The species is the largest of the carrion-feeding sexton beetles (at about 30mm) and, apart from the orange clubs to the antennae, the only one that is entirely black. Nicrophorus humator is nocturnal, strongly attracted to light and usually found in woodland. Adults are around from March to October, peaking in July.

There are curiously few records from the North-West Highlands (only the Scourie area, NC14, although it occurred regularly in Ian Evans’s moth trap at Nedd, NC1331, in the 1990s and 2000s).

One of the mites that infest sexton (and dung) beetles is visible at the join between the head and thorax; they use the beetle to get around and also suck its juices through thin parts of its carapace; a researcher in Poland recorded an average of 112 mites on individual beetles there, ouch!

Gwen Richards, with comments by Ian Evans

Black sexton beetle Nicrophorus humator. Photo G. Richards
Black sexton beetle Nicrophorus humator. Photo G. Richards

Report a Sighting

Recent Sightings

Black-tailed Godwit

single bird Bay of Culkein (Janet French). Photo - Gallery Birds (21/05)

Garganey

single male Loch Neil Bhain (DAH). This is only the third Assynt record of this species. Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)

Lapwing

three adult birds and one chick, Loch Neil Bhain (DAH) (19/05)

Whimbrel

two birds near Culkein Drumbeg jetty (DAH). Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)

Risso's Dolphin

four animals off Stoerhead Lighthouse (DAH) (19/05)

Arctic Tern

15+ birds on offshore island Culkein Drumbeg (DAH) (19/05)

Shelduck

pair still present Oldany estuary area (DAH) (19/05)

Golden Plover

at least four birds on grazing land Balchladich (Janet French) (18/05)

Map