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Beetle gravediggers: habitat, behavior and reproduction

Beetle gravediggers belong to the family of dead people. As can be judged from the title, their main feature is eating all kinds of carrion. On the one hand, this behavior is clearly disgusting, and on the other - quite justifiable respect, as these creatures take on the role of forest orderlies.

However, what else are notable gravedigger beetles? Do they have what other insect species do not have? And why among scientists there is an opinion that these creatures are the best parents in the world of beetles?


In what countries does the bug grave live? The photos taken by naturalists prove that it is possible to meet representatives of this species practically in all corners of the planet, except for Australia and some parts of Africa. At the same time grave-diggers prefer to settle in forests, however even in the steppe they will feel more than comfortable. The main thing is that the terrain is abundantly full of food, since this species is very voracious.

What does the bug grave look like?

In many respects, the appearance of an insect depends on its habitat. In particular, beetles from different corners of the Earth differ in their size. So, the South American subspecies of the gravedigger has a body length of not more than 1 cm, while his Russian "relative" can reach 3 or even 4 cm.

As for the color, then almost all the beetle is black. Gravedigger only on the wings, and sometimes on the top of the chest has a few orange spots. Such a gamma very successfully emphasizes the specifics of these insects, thereby giving them a special charm. It should also be noted that on the head of the beetle there is a pair of powerful antennae, at the end of which there are pronounced seals.

Is the owl-gravedigger really omnivorous: what does this species eat?

Despite the fact that this species belongs to the family of deadheads, the basis of its diet is not a carrion. Naturally, they also eat animal corpses, but in this case there are a number of rules that limit beetles in their appetite. The reason for this behavior lies in the peculiarities of the process of breeding gravediggers, but this issue will be considered a little later.

More importantly, bugs are aggressive predators that eat other insects. By and large, hunting is conducted on small inhabitants of their range, such as aphids, ladybugs, caterpillars and so on. Simply put, beetle gravediggers are able to eat anything that can fit into their mouth.

Features of behavior

The gravediggers spend most of their life in proud solitude, pacing around the district in search of a carrion. They are helped in this by special receptors located at the end of the antennae. Thanks to them the beetle is able to smell the smell of decomposing body at a distance of more than 100 meters. And after that, nothing will stop a stubborn insect from traveling to the intended goal.

Having discovered the object of his searches, the gravedigger beetle soberly assesses the suitability of the prey. If the object is in good condition, then it gives an aromatic signal, informing the nearest relatives about a valuable find. Often, help comes quickly, after which a careful distribution of roles begins.

So, if the male has found the prey, then it is up to him to be the head of the new family. If it was a female, then she chooses her husband as the most worthy gentleman. By the way, most often it is the males who find the corpses of animals, since they devote much more time to this process than their halves.

The true purpose of the corpse

As stated earlier, adult individuals of grave-bug grains rarely eat the remains found on the road. Instead, they amicably buried the corpse in the ground, which is why, in fact, these insects got their gloomy name. But the reason for this behavior is not the desire to clear the forest of decaying carrion, but a natural desire to continue the race.

So, the "buried" corpse is an excellent source of food for the young generation of beetles. That is, only after the find is buried in the ground, gravediggers begin to mate. And then the female simply lays eggs next to carrion, thereby guaranteeing children safety when born.

How do they bury corpses

Given the small size of insects, a completely logical question arises: "And how do they bury the found remains of animals?" In fact, everything here is quite simple. Beetles simply make a dig under the body and begin to loosen the ground. This leads to the fact that the soil becomes less dense, and the remains begin to gradually fall down, as if plunging into quicksand.

More noteworthy is how gravedigger beetles treat the body after its "burial". So, they clean it of wool or feathers, and then cover with a special antibacterial secret from the glands. Due to this, the corpse of an animal can lie underground for several weeks and at the same time not decompose.

Incredible care for the offspring

After laying eggs, the male and female leave the nest for two weeks. But then they come back again to meet the new generation. Such care for your children is extremely curious for researchers, as in the world of insects you will see such things infrequently.

What is true, young parents are not so humane, as it may seem at first glance. After all, they mercilessly destroy all the larvae that were born into the world weak or underdeveloped. Only healthy individuals have the right to go to a big feast, where they are accompanied by adult beetles-gravediggers.

In this case, the parents themselves also participate in eating the corpse. And this is most striking, as it is proved by the fact that before this beetles refused to themselves food only because of the care of their children. After the meal, the larvae burrow deep into the ground, after which they turn into pupae. And two weeks later a new generation of grave-diggers is emerging from them, and the whole life cycle is repeated in a new circle.

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