Saturday, August 1, 2015

American Burying Beetle Release

Name: Courtney Dover
Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Springfield, Ohio
Internship: The Wilds Scholar Internship
Location: Cumberland, Ohio

Hello everyone! When I came to the Wilds I was expecting to work mostly with the hellbenders, but over the last 10 weeks I have learned so many new things about several different species. For example, all of the scholar interns were welcomed to assist with an American Burying Beetle Release.

The American Burying Beetle was the first insect species to be listed as a federal endangered species. It is native to Ohio, and it is now critically endangered. It is a species of carrion beetle that will bury carrion and use it to reproduce. The decline of this species is mostly due to habitat loss.

Fortunately, conservation centers like The Wilds are working to bring back this beetle. The Wilds breeds the beetles and has a mass release once a year. I was lucky enough to be invited to assist.

We started by digging 16 holes in three separate areas for a total of 48 holes.

 We then put a frozen rat into each hole. Here I am adding a rat to this hole.

Next, we added to beetles into each hole: a male and a female. They were transported over in the little boxes you can see on the ground. They are distinguishable by an orange spot on their foreheads that is different shapes depending on the sex of the beetle.

Then we covered the holes back up with dirt. We put two layers of wire over the lines of holes to prevent other scavengers from coming in and taking the rats away from the beetles.

This is what the finished product looked like. We left the beetles like this and in a couple weeks will come back to check for larva.

As we were in the process of releasing beetles, we had to watch where we were stepping. Sometimes the beetles decided they did not want to stay in the nice hole we had made them and they dug back up to the surface. All our work would be worthless if we had accidentally stepped on a critically endangered beetle!

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