This brings us to The Wilds, which began captive breeding its own population of American Burying Beetles in 2007. Every year the conservationists at The Wilds take a portion of their captive population and reintroduces those beetles back into the wild at a location on their property. I was able to participate in the 2017 "Planting of the Beetles" and document the process.
—typically something between the size of a mouse and a pigeon. Upon finding a suitable carcass, the pair will begin to bury it to a typical depth of 4-10 inches. Once buried, the beetles will alter the shape of the carcass and add chemical secretions to it which will slow down the rate of decomposition. After this, the female will lay eggs in a separate chamber above the carcass. After the eggs hatch, both the male and female will use the carcass to feed the larvae. Once the larvae are ready to pupate, the parents will leave the nest.
The whole point of this reintroduction day is for us humans to do all the hard work for the beetles about to be reintroduced. About two dozen volunteers from various agencies and organizations ventured into the forest and began digging lots of holes—110 to be exact. Once the holes were dug, each was then "seeded" with a dead rat.
|Dan Beetem, the Director of Animal Management for The Wilds, examines a pair of American Burying Beetles.|
—interacting with such a special creature on such a personal level—are what captivate and inspire me. These are the moments I hoped to experience when I chose to venture down the wildlife biology path.
|Dan Beetem, the Director of Animal Management for The Wilds, looks on the American Burying Beetles' new homes with optimism.|