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American burying beetle

American Burying Beetle

Nicrophorus americanus
This brightly patterned beetle specializes in cleaning carrion from the landscape, burying dead mice, birds, and other creatures. It is endangered in our nation and in our state, and restoration efforts are under way.

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Image of an American burying beetle

American Burying Beetle

The American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) used to be common but is now a critically endangered species. It only occurs in a few places in the United States. The Saint Louis Zoo, with other conservation institutions including MDC, has a captive breeding program and is working to restore this species to the wild.

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American burying beetle

American burying beetle

Entomologists have not found this carrion feeder on a Missouri native prairie remnant since the 1970s. The Saint Louis Zoo in partnership with MDC is releasing about 150 pairs of American burying beetles at the Wah-Kon-Tah Prairie north of El Dorado Springs, Mo. Also partnering in the project is The Nature Conservancy of Missouri and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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American burying beetle feeds on dead pen-raised quail

American burying beetle feeds on dead pen-raised quail

American burying beetles feed on carrion, and mating pairs bury small animals to feed themselves and their young. The beetles released at Wah-Kon-Tah were buried in a hand-dug hole with a dead pen-raised quail.

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American burying beetle ready for release

American burying beetle ready for release

American burying beetle ready for release

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American burying beetle release at Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie

American burying beetle release at Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie

Missouri Department of Conservation employees Rick Swopes (left) and Tyler Harding were among the 70 people who helped the Saint Louis Zoo release American burying beetles on June 4 at the Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie. Beetles in the wild dig holes and bury carrion to feed on while raising young. Crews gave the released beetles a hand by digging holes and covering them with chicken wire staked down to keep animals from disturbing them.

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American Burying Beetle Release by Bob Merz

American Burying Beetle Release by Bob Merz

Bob Merz of the Saint Louis Zoo holds an endangered American burying beetle for an experimental release at the Wah-Kon-Tah Prairie.

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American burying beetle

American Burying Beetle Restoration

Learn about multi-agency efforts to restore this colorful, ecologically important insect to Missouri’s prairie landscape.

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American burying beetle

American burying beetle restoration results in grubs

This content is archived
27 of 39 sites checked had larvae, so beetles are reproducing as hoped.

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