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Carrion Beetles - Silphidae
Carrion Beetles - Silphidae


Carrion beetles
The carrion beetles (Silphidae) are a family of medium-sized beetles, in the order beetles (Coleoptera) and the superfamily Staphylinoidea. The carrion beetles, comprises approximately 320 species and they are found worldwide, especially between the subtropical zones and the polar circle.
In Europe, the subfamily Nicrophorinae with the genus Nicrophorus is common and the subfamily Silphinae with the genera Ablattaria, Aclypea, Dendroxena, Heterotemna, Necrodes, Oiceoptoma, Phosphuga, Silpha and Thanatophilus. Some examples of the 47 European Silphidae species are: Nicrophorus humator, Nicrophorus vespillo, Nicrophorus vespilloides, Aclypea opaca, Dendroxena quadrimaculata, Necrodes littoralis, Oiceoptoma thoracicum, Phosphuga atrata, Silpha obscura, Thanatophilus rugosus and Thanatophilus sinuatus.
Silphidae reach body lengths of 4 - 40 mm. The species with the largest specimens belong to the subfamily Silphinae. The bodies of Silphidae vary according to species and may be flat (subfamily Silphinae), elongated (subfamily Nicrophorinae) or oval. The basic body colour of most Silphidae is black or dark brown. Some species have reddish stripes or patches on their wing covers (elytra.) Some Silphidae are yellow and have black spots.
The antennae normally have 11 segments, all, or only the last four, of which are increasingly thicker towards the end, thus appearing club or bone shaped.In some species the antennae are threadlike or endpin-verse (with or without thickening).
The species of the genus Leptoderus who live in underground caves have no eyes. The wing covers (elytra) are black, sometimes with orange spots, and in most species they cover the entire abdomen (subfamily Silphinae) or more rarely, leave the last 3 abdominal segments exposed. On the abdomen are 6 flexible rings.
The larvae of Silphidae, with their broad, flattened, oval or elongated bodies often resemble woodlice. The surface of their bodies is hard. They usually have antennae with 4 segments. On each side of the head there are 2 - 6 secondary eyes. The larvae have 2 segmented appendages at the end of their abdomen, which support movement.
Species of the genus Oiceoptoma such as Oeceoptoma thoracicum feed on faeces, rotting plants or fungi as well as carrion. Representatives of the genus Ablattaria (e.g. Ablattaria laevigata) specialize in the consumption of snails. They can penetrate the snail shell. Specimens from the genus Aclypea (although considered polyphagous i.e. feeding from a variety of sources), are pure herbivores that can cause tremendous damage in turnip fields when appearing en masse. Members of the species Silpha atrata lay their eggs on dry or decaying leaves or in the soil. Their larvae can also cause damage to young turnip plants.


Further chapters of "Carrion Beetles"
- Phosphuga atrata
- Common sexton beetle
Description of images / photos
Photography with Cameras
Nikon D3x, Nikon D300, Canon 50D
Image editing with Photoshop
1. Carrion Beetles - Silphidae
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