We found the following beetle walking along the floor, and, not
decided to photograph it, and then sent the image to Christopher Majka.
Here is the photo, and his reponse.
Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus sayi, photo © 2006 by Blake Maybank
White's Lake, HRM, Nova Scotia -- 7 May 2006
"As it transpires there is just enough
detail and the angles of the photo are sufficiently correct, that I can
identify it to species. This is a so-called "burying beetle", Nicrophorus sayi Castelnau. There
are 7 species in the genus Nicrophorus found in Nova Scotia, and they
are (in large measure) differentiated by the orange patterns on their
elytra. You'll notice in the photos that the anterior orange spots (the
ones closest to the middle) on the elytra (the hard "covers" that fold
over the wings and abdomen) curve around the humerus (the shoulder).
Also that the clubs of the antennae are orange and that the pronotum
(the middle section of the beetle) is shiny and without pubescence. All
these taken together are sufficient to identify it to species.
It is a common species in Nova Scotia
(recorded in 13 counties). They are called "burying beetles" because
they look for small dead birds, mice, frogs, etc. in forested areas and
excavate the soil beneath them, gradually "burying" the animal. They
then lay eggs on the dead animal and the larvae feed on the carrion.
This behavior results from competition with flies: the faster they can
bury an animal the fewer flies will lay eggs on it and fly maggots are
their competition for this food source.
In any event, they are excellent fliers
and are attracted to lights (as well as to the smell of anything
decomposing) so they sometimes end up in homes. In any event, thanks
for the information. I'll add it to our database. I'm not sure offhand
if this is early to find them or not, but I suspect not.