black burying beetle

black burying beetle

6127  Dear Sir/ Madam, Kindly help me identify these insects. Photo was taken in Mission, British Columbia, Canada on the last week of August, 2017.  I am not sure if those insects at the back of the beetle are its babies or some kind of “Tick’? Thanks very much in advance! Martin

This appears to be a black burying beetle, Nicrophorus nigrita (Coleoptera: Silphidae); see https://tinyurl.com/y8r24ma6 for an image. The smaller critters on its back are mites, likely Poecilochirus necrophori. These mites are getting a free ride (phoresy) to their next meal (they appear to feed both on carrion and on the eggs/small maggots of carrion-feeding flies). See https://tinyurl.com/y7tjr32o for details on the beetle-mite relationship. Ed Saugstad, retired entomologist; Sinks Grove, WV.