Nicrophorus americanus

Physical characteristics: Adult American burying beetles are shiny black with four wide orange spots on the elytra. The head and mid-section each have a central orange spot. The tips of the antennae are also orange. They measure 0.8 to 1.4 inches (20 to 35 millimeters) in length.

Geographic range: This species was once found throughout eastern North America. It is now found only in isolated populations in the Midwest, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Habitat: American burying beetles live in woodlands, grassland prairies, forest edge, and scrubland.

The American burying beetle faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild and is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey. Reproduced by permission.

Diet: Both adults and larvae feed on dead animals.

Behavior and reproduction: The adults bury small, dead animals and prepare their bodies as food for themselves and their larvae. They feed and care for the larvae and remain with them until they pupate.

American burying beetles and people: Listed as an Endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the American burying beetle symbolizes the effect of widespread habitat modification and destruction in the eastern United States.

Conservation status: This species is listed as Endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. This means it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild and is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. ■

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