University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Mystery Bug Answers

Mystery Picture #68

Mystery Picture #68

P. Lucas, University of Kentucky
R. Bessin, University of Kentucky
(Mystery Pictures)(Mystery Pictures)


Mayflies are some of the oldest kinds of insects in the world. They've been around for 300 million years: that means they were here even before the dinosaurs! And you can bet that some of the smaller dinosaurs ate mayflies. Nowadays, fish do most of the mayfly eating-- in fact, there are artificial fishing lures that are designed to look and move like mayflies.

Mayflies have an unusual life cycle. Although the adults have wings and live on land, the babies live underwater. Often, the babies live for a number of years and the adults live for just a few days. And how about this: the adults don't eat. They don't even have mouths. Freaky!


Some insects eat nectar. Some eat leaves. Carrion beetles like to eat dead animal flesh. Not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure.

The carrion beetle above is also called a "burying beetle." When it finds a small animal carcass, it excavates the soil beneath until the body sinks into the ground. The beetle then lays its eggs in the carcass. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the body until they are ready to pupate.

Burying beetles are in the beetle family Silphidae, and the genus Nicrophorus. Check out this website devoted to Nicrophorus research:

Because carrion beetles like to eat dead animal tissue, they are sometimes used to solve crimes! This field of study is called Forensic Entomology.

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