Endangered Ugly Things
Highlighting organisms that are too strange, boring, or just plain ugly to get wider attention.

These guys are Halloween in a beetle (bogleech, I’m looking at you). The American Burying Beetle’s black and orange color is just the start. They are also associated with death, and also child friendly—at least for their own kids. 

One of the adults will find a suitable bird or rodent carcass, and send out pheromones to attract a member of the opposite sex. Once the pair meet, they get busy… burying. Well, first they strip off the skin and appendages of the corpse, turning it into a lovely flesh-ball. Then, there’s the actual burying, mating, and egg laying.

But the hard working parents’ job isn’t done once the eggs are laid. Once the grubs hatch, the real work begins. They keep the babies clean, perform regurgitation feeding like birds, or moving the babies to a particularly choice piece of carcass. This is a good picture of the parental care, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Habitation fragmentation has made it difficult for couples to find each other, causing the Burying Beetle to be listed by the Endangered Species Act. Breeding and reintroduction programs have been working to bring these beauties back to the wild.

Image from the Fish and Wildlife Service

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