Babies or predators

Asked September 2, 2019, 3:03 PM EDT

Is this beetle being devoured alive or struggling to carry its offspring? I have either seen 2 such beetles or the same one in a 24 hour period.

Jackson County Oregon

1 Response

This appears to be a dung beetle with numerous phoretic mites. They ar a friendly pair.

The beetles feed on, and lay their eggs on, dung. The mites hitchhike on the beetle and will jump off when the beetles find the dung. The mites destroy any fly eggs on the dung as a means of "protecting" the beetle eggs from the carnivorous fly larvae (youngsters).