tomentose burying beetle

(Nicrophorus tomentosus)

Conservation Status
tomentose burying beetle
Photo by Kimberly Wittek
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Tomentose burying beetle is a moderately-sized, easily recognized, North American burying beetle. It occurs in the United States and southern Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. Adults are active from June through October. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, shrubby areas, and open grasslands, apparently showing no preference for any of them.

The adult is 716 to ¾ (11.2 to 19.0 mm) in length. In flight, it strongly resembles a bumble bee. At rest, it does not.

The head and mouth parts are projected forward. The antennae have 11 segments, but the second segment is very small, making it appear that there are only 10 segments. They are abruptly widened (clubbed) at the tip. They are entirely black, including the club. The club is covered with velvety hairs (setae).

The body is somewhat flattened and entirely black. The hardened plate covering the thorax (pronotum) is wider than the head, almost square, and entirely black with no orange markings. It is sharply flattened at the edges with broad margins at the sides and a wide margin at the base. It is densely covered with long yellow setae. On the underside, the large rearmost plate on the thorax (metasternum) is also densely covered with long yellow setae. The plate between the wing bases (scutellum) is visible, moderate-sized, and entirely black.

The hardened wing covers (elytra) are truncate, appearing cut off at the tip and exposing 2 or 3 body segments. The lateral margins are folded under. The surface is smooth, not grooved or ridged. On each elytron there are two orange, horizontal bands. The front band is broad. It extends from the lateral margin to the inner margin (suture). The edges are sharply “toothed, as if tattered.” Together, the front bands on both elytra make a continuous band. The suture is narrow, raised, and entirely black. The rear band is narrower and usually also reaches the suture. It is roundly lobed, not sharply toothed. Occasionally the front and rear bands are connected along the lateral margins.

The legs are black. The fourth segment (tibia) on each hind leg is straight, not curved. The end part of each leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has 5 segments. The last segment has two claws at the tip. The claws are simple, not split, and are the same size.




Total length: 716 to ¾ (11.2 to 19.0 mm)


Similar Species


Forests, shrubby areas, and open grasslands




June to October (CCESR)




Unlike other burying beetles, tomentose burying beetle does not bury its prey. Instead, it makes a shallow pit, deposits the carcass, and covers it with litter.


Life Cycle


Third instar larvae overwinter in the soil near the carcass. They pupate the following spring and adults emerge in June.


Larva Food




Adult Food




Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.







Coleoptera (beetles)  


Polyphaga (water, rove, scarab, long-horned, leaf, and snout beetles)  




Staphylinoidea (rove, ant-like stone, and carrion beetles)  


Silphidae (burying and carrion beetles)  




Nicrophorus (burying beetles)  



Necrophorus [sic] marginatus

Necrophorus [sic] requiescator

Necrophorus [sic] tomentosus

Necrophorus [sic] velutinus

Nicrophorus vespillo


Common Names


gold-necked carrion beetle

tomentose burying beetle












The hardened or leathery forewings of beetles used to protect the fragile hindwings, which are used for flying. Singular: elytron.



The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.



The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.



A stiff, hair-like process on the outer surface of an organism. In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses: The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae.



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.





Visitor Photos

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Kimberly Wittek


Found this courious looking fella wandering around the porch. I came here to find out more about it. Thanks for the info!

  tomentose burying beetle  
      tomentose burying beetle  








Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Nicrophorus tomentosus
Alison Waddell

Jul 26, 2020

Found this burrying beetle in a garbage bin. I'm not going to go into what brought it there (all I could find was the hair) but naturally I had to take a closer look. For all the entomologists out there, did I get the right sub-class of Nicrophorus? And is it supposed to be in southern Ontario, Canada?

  Tomentose Burying Beetle (Silphidae: Nicrophorus tomentosus) with Mouse
Carl Barrentine

Aug 12, 2010

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (11 August 2010).

  Gold-necked carrion beetle - Nicrophorus tomentosus
Colin Carmichael

Jul 18, 2014

Gold-necked carrion beetle, Nicrophorus tomentosus, is a species of burying beetle that was described by Friedrich Weber in 1801. The beetle belongs to the Silphidae family which are carrion beetles. The beetles have sensitive antennae that contain olfactory organs. Thus, the beetle can locate dead animals (carcass), and then as the name suggests, can bury them. However, unlike other burying beetles, N. tomentosus does not feed these brood carcasses. They instead eliminate the soil under the carcass, so the carcass will sink underneath. Recognition of these beetles can be distinguished by its black color with orange markings on the wing covers (elytra). (Wikipedia)




Visitor Sightings

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  Kimberly Wittek

Location: Long Prairie, Minnesota

Found this courious looking fella wandering around the porch. I came here to find out more about it. Thanks for the info!

tomentose burying beetle  






Created: 9/20/2022

Last Updated:

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