Burying beetle Nicrophorus vespillo, photographed by James K. Lindsey.

Belongs within: Polyphaga.

The Silphidae are a family of large, flattened beetles. Silphids are best known as scavengers of vertebrate carcasses, but other species are predators of gastropods or insect larvae, or phytophagous. Silphinae, the large carrion beetles, prefer to reproduce on larger carcasses, while Nicrophorus, the sexton or burying beetles, prefer smaller carcasses that they often bury before laying their eggs on them. Nicrophorus species are strikingly coloured in red or orange and black, and exhibit well-developed parental care with larvae being fed by their parents through regurgitation (Peck 1990).

Characters (from Lawrence & Britton 1991): Relatively large and flattened with distinctive antennae (relatively long, eleven-segmented, with large, three-segmented, slightly asymmetrical, finely pilose club preceded by at least one glabrous, strongly transverse, concave segment). Body either glabrous or clothed with very short, fine hairs; eyes moderately large and protuberant; fore coxae large and projecting, all tarsal segments clothed beneath with yellow hairs. Larvae broad, depressed, heavily sclerotised, with lateral, plate-like expansions on thorax and abdomen.

    |  i. s.: Ptomaphila MC94
    |         Bathyscia R89
    |           |--B. abeillei R89
    |           |--B. clavata R89
    |           |--B. ligurica Reitter 1889 R89
    |           |--B. robiati Leprieur ex Reitter 1889 [=Adelops robiati ms] R89
    |           `--B. spagnoli R89
    |         Diamesus osculans ZS10
    |         Blitophaga undata [incl. B. undata var. verrucosa] C01
    |--Nicrophorus Fabricius 1775 [Nicrophorinae] P90
    |    |--N. americanus GE05
    |    |--N. antennatus C01
    |    |--N. carolinus P90
    |    |--N. defodiens P90
    |    |--N. gutula P90
    |    |--N. humator C01
    |    |--N. hybridus P90
    |    |--N. investigator P90
    |    |--N. marginatus P90
    |    |--N. mexicanus P90
    |    |--N. morio [incl. N. morio var. funebris] C01
    |    |--N. nigrita P90
    |    |--N. orbicollis A-B91
    |    |--N. obscurus P90
    |    |--N. pseudobrutor C01
    |    |--N. pustulatus P90
    |    |--N. sayi P90
    |    |--N. tomentosus GE05
    |    |--N. vespillo SMB91
    |    `--N. vespilloides SMB91
    `--Silphinae P90
         |--Necrodes Lach 1815 P90
         |    `--N. surinamensis P90
         |--Oxelytrum Gistel 1848 P90
         |    `--O. discicolle P90
         |--Necrophila Kirby & Spence 1828 P90
         |    `--N. americana P90
         |--Silpha E12
         |    |--S. carinata C01
         |    |--S. obscura C01
         |    |--S. perforata C01
         |    |--S. puncticollis Lucas 1847 E12
         |    `--S. tuberculata Lucas 1847 E12
         |--Heterosilpha Portevin 1926 P90
         |    |--H. aenescens P90
         |    `--H. ramosa P90
         |--Aclypea Reitter 1884 P90
         |    |--A. bituberosa P90
         |    `--A. opaca P90
         |--Oiceoptoma Leach 1815 P90
         |    |--O. inaequale P90
         |    |--O. noveboracense P90
         |    `--O. rugulosum P90
         `--Thanatophilus Leach 1815 P90
              |--T. coloradensis P90
              |--T. lapponicus P90
              |--T. sagax P90
              |--T. sinuatus [incl. T. sinuatus var. erythrurus] C01
              |--T. trituberculatus P90
              `--T. truncatus P90

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A-B91] Athias-Binche, F. 1991. Ecology and evolution of phoresy in mites. In Dusbábek, F. & V. Bukva (eds) Modern Acarology: Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Acarology, held in České Budĕjovice, Czechoslovakia, 6–11 August 1990 vol. 1 pp. 27-41. SPB Academic Publishing: The Hague.

[C01] Csiki, E. 1901. Bogarak [Coleopteren]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy], Band II. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy], pp. 75-120. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[GE05] Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press: New York.

Lawrence, J. F., & E. B. Britton. 1991. Coleoptera. In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: a textbook for students and research workers, vol. 2, pp. 543-683. Melbourne University Press.

[MC94] Morrone, J. J., & J. M. Carpenter. 1994. In search of a method for cladistic biogeography: An empirical comparison of component analysis, Brooks parsimony analysis, and three-area statements. Cladistics 10: 99-153.

[P90] Peck, S. B. 1990. Insecta: Coleoptera Silphidae and the associated families Agyrtidae and Leiodidae. In: Dindal, D. L. (ed.) Soil Biology Guide pp. 1113-1136. John Wiley & Sones: New York.

[R89] Reitter, E. 1889. Drei neue Silphiden aus Italien, beschrieben von Edmund Reitter in Mödling. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, Serie 2a 7: 293-294.

[SMB91] Schwarz, H. H., J. K. Müller & A. Baker. 1991. Genetic differentiation between deuteronymphs of Poecilochirus carabi (Mesostigmata, Parasitidae) living on sympatric Necrophorus species (Coleoptera, Silphidae). In: Dusbábek, F. & V. Bukva (eds) Modern Acarology: Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Acarology, held in České Budĕjovice, Czechoslovakia, 6–11 August 1990 vol. 2 pp. 431-436. SPB Academic Publishing: The Hague.

[ZS10] Zborowski, P. & R. Storey. 2010. A Field Guide to Insects in Australia. Reed New Holland: Sydney.

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