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

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