Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sexton Beetle

We found this common lizard lying dead on top of one of the upturned kayaks the other afternoon.  It seemed a strange place to have chosen to die - or perhaps it was dropped there by whatever killed it.

Looking closer, we noticed a rather smart beetle feeding near the lizard's tail - in fact, it appears that the beetle had almost severed the tail.  A quick search on the internet suggested that this is Nicrophorus vespilloides, the common sextant beetle.  His name comes from an official of the church, the sextant, described by the Free Online Dictionary as, "An employee or officer of a church who is responsible for the care and upkeep of church property and sometimes for ringing bells and digging graves."  The beetle's probably not too good at ringing bells, and doesn't so much dig graves for dead animals as exploit their corpses for the purposes of feeding its larvae.

It wasn't until the photos were transferred to the computer at home that we noticed something on the beetle.  It looks rather like a tick.  The Diary suddenly finds itself able to empathise with a beetle.


  1. never seen a lizard in Ardnamurchan - what sort of size was this one?

  2. Seems like a case of:
    "Great fleas have little fleas
    Upon their backs to bite 'em
    And little fleas have lesser fleas
    And on - ad infinitum!"