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Nicrophorus vespilloides

Nicrophorus vespilloides, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Coleopterida
Ordo: Coleoptera
Subordo: Polyphaga
Infraordo: Staphyliniformia
Superfamilia: Staphylinoidea

Familia: Silphidae
Subfamilia: Nicrophorinae
Genus: Nicrophorus
Species: Nicrophorus vespilloides

Nicrophorus vespilloides Herbst, 1783

Nicrophorus vespilloides - photo by D.I. Gavryushin

Vernacular names
suomi: Pikkuturkkilo
magyar: Feketecsápú dögbogár, feketecsápú temetőbogár

Nicrophorus vespilloides is a burying beetle described by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Herbst in 1783.

The beetles are 10 – 18 mm long. They have two conspicuous orange-yellow bands on the elytra. The color of the antennae are an important distinguishing feature, being totally black.[1]

This is one of the most well studied of the burying beetles with over 1,000 citations found via Google Scholar.[2] What had been considered Nicrophorus vespilloides in mid and eastern Canada and northeastern USA was determined by Sikes et al. in 2016[2] to be a separate, overlooked sister species of Nicrophorus vespilloides that had been named by Kirby in 1837.

This sister species, Nicrophorus hebes Kirby,[2] is restricted to Sphagnum bogs and marshes,.[3][4] Nicrophorus vespilloides occurs throughout the northern Palearctic, Alaska and northwestern Canada where it is found in open forest habitats. The restriction of its sister species N. hebes to bogs in North America has been attributed to competition with its closely related congener, N. defodiens which in this area is found in forest habitats. N. hebes reproduces exclusively in bogs in North America and is never found in adjacent (<100 m or 330 ft) forested habitat in the Mer Bleue bog area near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.[5]

Beetles Nicrophorus vespilloides and Oiceoptoma thoracicum perusing an unidentified small carcass.

There are also a number of phoretic (hitch-hiking) mites that are associated with N. vespilloides. These include Pelzneria nr. crenulata, Macrocheles merderius, and Uroobovella nr. novasimilis and the largest mite Poecilochirus carabi.[6] P. carabi is not attached by any physical means (such as a secreted anal stalk in the case of M. merderius) to N. vespilloides. When the males or females of N. vespilloides have finished breeding on a carcass the deutonymphs of P. carabi roam freely about the body of the beetles as they search for new carcasses to reproduce. It had been proposed that P. carabi deutonymphs, on arrival at a new carcass dismounted from the beetles and consumed fly eggs and larvae which would have competed for the beetle larvae for food.[7] This relationship which benefited the beetles has been described as mutualistic.[8][9] However, it has been shown that adults of P. carabi consume the eggs of N. vespilloides and that this has direct and negative effects on the reproduction of this beetle species.[10]

N. vespilloides is also used as a model organism in the study of social immunity.

Whiffin, Ashleigh. "Discover 8 carrion beetles you should look out for". Discover Wildlife. BBC Wildlife Magazine. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
Sikes, D.S; S. T. Trumbo; S.B. Peck (2016). "Cryptic diversity in the New World burying beetle fauna: Nicrophorus hebes Kirby, 1837; new status as a resurrected name (Coleoptera: Silphidae: Nicrophorinae)" (PDF). Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny. 74 (3): 299–309. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-05-18. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
Robert S. Anderson (1982). "Resource partitioning in the carrion beetle (Coleoptera: Silphidae) fauna of southern Ontario: ecological and evolutionary considerations". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 60 (6): 1314–1325. doi:10.1139/z82-178.
Clifford W. Beninger & Stewart B. Peck (1992). "Temporal and spatial patterns of resource use among Nicrophorus in a Sphagnum bog and adjacent forest near Ottawa, Canada". The Canadian Entomologist. 124 (1): 79–86. doi:10.4039/Ent12479-1.
Clifford W. Beninger (1994). "Phenology, reproductive biology and habitat associations of Nicrophorus Fab. (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of the Mer Bleue bog area (Ottawa, Canada)". Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada. 126 (169): 135–143. doi:10.4039/entm126169135-1.
Clifford W. Beninger (1989). A study of the ecology and reproductive biology of the carrion beetle assemblage in the Mer Bleue Bog area with specific reference to the habitat associations of Nicrophorus vespilloides Herbst and N. defodiens Mannerheim (Coleoptera: Silphidae) (M.Sc. thesis). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Carleton University.
B. P. Springett (1968). "Aspects of the relationship between burying beetles, Necrophorus spp., and the mite, Poecilochirus necrophori Vitz". Journal of Animal Ecology. 37 (2): 417–424. doi:10.2307/2957. JSTOR 2957.
David Sloan Wilson (1983). "The effect of population structure on the evolution of mutualism: a field test involving burying beetles and their phoretic mites". The American Naturalist. 121 (6): 851–870. doi:10.1086/284108. JSTOR 2460857.
David Sloan Wilson & W. G. Knollenberg (1987). "Adaptive indirect effects: the fitness of burying beetles with and without their phoretic mites". Evolutionary Ecology. 1 (2): 139–159. doi:10.1007/BF02067397. S2CID 13408474.
Clifford W. Beninger (1993). "Egg predation by Poecilochirus carabi (Mesostigmata: Parasitidae) and its effect on reproduction of Nicrophorus vespilloides (Coleoptera:Silphidae)". Environmental Entomology. 22 (4): 766–769. doi:10.1093/ee/22.4.766.

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