Burying beetles Nicrophorus orbicollis (Coleoptera: Silphidae) secure and bury small vertebrate carcasses as a food resource for their offspring and themselves. Burial may take place at the point of carcass discovery or at some distance from that site. Burying beetles were tested to determine if they discriminate between different substrates when burying a carcass. Three substrates were presented simultaneously. Substrate one contained soil from typical beetle habitat; substrates two and three contained 2:1 and 5:1 ratios, respectively, of soil and a senescent prairie grass (Panicum virgatum), which added a bulk structural component to the soil. Beetles generally moved and buried the carcass within 24 hours. Results for both paired and individual trials suggest that burying beetles discriminate between substrates, preferring substrates with added bulk over those without.
Additional publication details
Substrate discrimination in burying beetles, Nicrophorus orbicollis (Coleoptera: Silphidae)