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Nicrophorus interruptus Stephens, 1830






POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

STAPHYLINOIDEA Latreille, 1802

SILPHIDAE Latreille, 1806


Nicrophorus Fabricius, 1775

A very widespread Palaearctic species extending from Europe and North Africa (Algeria & Morocco) to Iran, Turkey and Caucasia to Eastern Siberia and parts of Western China. The species occurs throughout Europe from lowlands to middle mountain altitudes (recorded above 1600 m in Turkey) from Portugal to Greece, including many of the Mediterranean islands, and north to the UK, Denmark and a few southern provinces of Norway and Sweden; it is generally common in southern and central regions but otherwise rather local. In the UK it is locally common in south eastern England but otherwise very local and scarce in the West Country, Wales and further north to the Scottish border, where it is likely to have suffered a recent decline. The species is often recorded from open sites on light sandy or chalky soils but more generally it may occur at carrion in almost any situation from woodland, parkland, moorland and coastal dunes to shaded woodland and wetland margins. Adults occur throughout the year although they breed later than most members of the genus, usually in late summer, and the main overwintering stage is the pre-pupa; they are active from May until September or October and peak in abundance during July or August. Adults are strongly attracted to carrion, and upon arrival a single male or female will defend it against others of the same sex until a suitable partner arrives, at which time they will mate and begin to bury the host material. If necessary they will remove parts of the carcass before crawling beneath it and excavating until it is buried, they will then form it into a food ball by removing fur or feathers and molding it into a ball before spreading preserving excretions across the surface. The female will then lay eggs, either on top of the food ball or in the soil nearby, and both adults will remain until the larvae emerge and make their way to the host material. Although older larvae are able to feed directly they rarely do so, instead they are fed regurgitated fluids by the adults who will remain to feed and protect them from predators through all three instars. In the absence of adults many, if not all, the larvae will die off in the first instar. Pupation occurs within the brood chamber and at this time the adults will either die-off or leave. In the present species the pre-pupal stage generally overwinters and pupation occurs in the spring. Adults are mostly nocturnal although they will sometimes arrive at carrion during the day and remain beneath until the evening when mating or burying commences, they are strong fliers and are attracted to light traps, and as well as carrion they sometimes occur in decaying fungi or other putrescent material. By far the best way to record the species is by using carrion-baited traps and here the use of fish or decaying chicken has often been successful, they may also be attracted to various types of dung, though not herbivore dung, e.g. we found the species at night among fox droppings in a shaded woodland in South Buckinghamshire during August 2018.

Nicrophorus interruptus 1

Nicrophorus interruptus 1

Nicrophorus interruptus 2

Nicrophorus interruptus 2

Nicrophorus interruptus 3

Nicrophorus interruptus 3

12-20 mm. Elongate and very robust, body shiny black, elytra black with two transverse red bands, the anterior of which is usually widely interrupted, antennae black with one or two apical segments orange or red, legs entirely black. Head transverse with convex eyes that follow the outline and long parallel temples that smoothly curve to a short neck, surface with very fine transverse striations, especially behind the eyes, and a broad Y-shaped impression between the eyes. Antennae inserted anteriorly in front of the eyes, 11-segmented; basal segment long and expanded from the base, 2-6 progressively more transverse, and 7-11 form an abrupt and compact club. Pronotum transverse, broadest at widely curved anterior angles and narrowed to rounded posterior angles, basal and apical margins curved, surface strongly impressed across the apical quarter,  across the base and along the middle, raised parts of the disc very finely punctured, margins without golden pubescence. Scutellum large and triangular, surface uneven and finely punctured throughout. Elytra slightly dilated from rounded shoulders to truncate and sinuate apical margins, surface strongly depressed below the shoulders, randomly and moderately strongly punctured throughout and with vague longitudinal lines. Abdominal tergites fringed with yellow hairs (important identification character.) Legs long and very robust; anterior tibiae strongly broadened, fossorial, inner margins of middle and hind tibiae straight, outer margins expanded, with numerous stiff setae and long apical spurs. Tarsi 5-segmented, front tarsi strongly dilated in males.

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