Country Corner

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It used to be that any most dead mouse, rabbit or suchlike, discovered in the country would reveal a Burying Beetle or two if you looked underneath.

Burying Beetles are nature’s recyclers and undertakers.

Finding a dead mouse, vole, shrew or small bird, the Burying Beetle will crawl under the carcase and start excavating. The more soil the beetle removes from below the carcase, the lower it sinks into the earth, until it is completely buried.

Now the Burying Beetle, or Sexton Beetle to use its alternative name, lays eggs on the carcase before leaving. This ensures a plentiful food supply for the beetle grubs when they hatch. Furthermore it ensures the carcase is efficiently removed and recycled.

I recall finding them when checking mole traps, as was the case with this handsome fellow.

Don’t ask me why, but I have across Burying Beetles far less often in recent years. Maybe the increase in foxes and badgers is creating competition for carrion, particularly as foxes are well known for eating dead meat of any age! Maybe it is to do with our more extreme weather patterns? Or with our use of agrichemicals?

Whatever the reasons, the various species of Burying and Sexton Beetles are certainly less common than I recall.

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