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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.
While most species of Silphidae can be found on animal carcasses, others choose fungus, rotting plants, healthy plants and faeces, some only for oviposition. The Silphidae and their larvae live and feed on carrion - necrophagous, on parts of plants - phytophagous, on faeces - coprophagous, or by preying on adult insects, insects’ larvae or on snails. Dendroxena quadrimaculata live off caterpillars, while members of the genus Nicrophorus bury the corpses of small animals (mice, moles etc.) and dig an incubator for oviposition alongside them. The females form small balls out of the dead tissue with which they feed the larvae after hatching. Beetles of the genera Thanatophilus, Necrodes and Silpha also live on carrion, but without burying it.
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.

Genera37
Species740
Common namesCarrion beetles, Large carrion beetles, Burying beetles, Sexton beetles
German namesAaskäfer
Dutch namesAaskevers
Danish namesÅdselbiller
Finnish namesRaatokuoriaiset
Norwegian namesÅtselbiller
Swedish namesAsbaggar
AuthorLatreille, 1807
Distribution
Checklists

Continents:

Eurasia
America
Africa
Oceania


Ecozones:

Palaearctic
Nearctic


Fossils:

Cenozoic
Mesozoic


Countries
Checklists
Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia
Links and ReferencesSilphidae in bie.ala.org.au
Silphidae in faunaeur.org
Silphidae in itis.gov
Silphidae in dyntaxa.se
Silphidae in Wikipedia (English)

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
Quick search: Silphidae - Carrion - Beetles - Beetle - Larvae - Orange
Black - Silpha - Larva - Atrata - Spots - Body - European - Europe
Taxonomy
ClassInsecta
Insects, True insects
SubclassPterygota
Winged insects
InfraclassNeoptera
Wing-folding insects
SuperorderHolometabola
Holometabolous Insects
OrderColeoptera
Beetles, Coleopterans
SuborderPolyphaga
Polyphags
InfraorderStaphyliniformia
SuperfamilyStaphylinoidea
Rove Beetles, Carrion Beetles, Fungus Beetles, Staphylinid Beetles
FamilySilphidae
Carrion beetles, Large carrion beetles, Burying beetles, Sexton beetles
AuthorLatreille, 1807
 
Synonyms
Necrophoridae (Kirby, 1837)
Silphales (Latreille, 1806)
 Species overview
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Keywords
ABCDEFGHIJKLM
NOPQRSTUVWXYZ
German Flag Aaskäfer
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