Yesterday was International Rock Flipping Day

I forgot.

beetles slugs rock

beetles rock 2

I forgot to mark my calendar, I’m a day late–and I broke the rules, too.

The first and prime rule of International Rock Flipping Day, set in stone, so to speak, by founder Dave Bonta, is the participants flip their rocks on September 20th, the official date thereof.  But I’m cheating.

I flipped my rock back on May 17th, while rearranging a flower bed. The reason I’m flouting the rule and posting these pictures taken last spring  is the beetles. I’m hoping someone can identify the species.

I’ve never seen beetles like these before, yet there they were minding their own business under an oblong chunk of striped native limestone next to my driveway, until I flipped.  I broke another rule–I didn’t replace the rock as I found it, either. I shifted it to a position dictated by Mrs. Dr. Omed. Mea culpa, Dave.

21 responses to “Yesterday was International Rock Flipping Day

  1. Very cool photo – glad you broke the rules! It might help folks who are trying to ID the beetles if they knew the geographical location where they were found. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Susannah.

    Glad to share. The geographical location is Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  3. I like your broken rules. Hats off to Mrs. Dr. Omed.

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  5. I don’t know the species, but I’ll bet they’re in over-winter mode. I’ve seen ladybugs cluster like that, too.

  6. I think that’s a good bet, Dave.

  7. My best guess is that they are Carrion Beetles (Family Silphidae). If so, their antennae are distinctive.

    More specifically, I’d say they were Sexton Beetles (Genus Nicrophorus). Species ID is tricky (for me) because the color patterns vary within each species.

    The common name Sexton Beetles is derived from their life cycle practice of burying small, dead mammals — like mice, shrews, etc. Sexton Beetles are remarkable in the insect world for their parental care of larvae. After burying the carcass, the female lays her eggs in it. Both parents stay with the decaying carcass and feed the young on regurgitated carrion.

    I have found clusters of overwintering Sexton Beetles under the bark of dead trees.

  8. Sexton beetles! I love the description–Thanks, Marvin, you’re the go-to guy on insects.

  9. Sounds like Sexton beetles spend most their time in the grave, so to speak–I wonder why they have such vividly colored marking on their carapaces.

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  11. A question I should have asked earlier: How big were these beetles?

  12. Much bigger than ladybugs, a little smaller than an average june bug, as best I remember, Marvin.

  13. Sorry, Doc, but my original ID was wrong. I was led astray by the orange and black markings.

    I went back to my photos of these beetles mentioned above, found a close up shot and saw the antenna were not correct for carrion beetles. I then submitted my photo to BugGuide for an ID.

    These are a species of Pleasing Fungus Beetle (specifically Megalodacne fasciata). According to BugGuide, “Larvae feed on bracket fungi. Adults overwinter under bark, often in groups.”

    It seems kind of strange your beetles were under a rock. I wonder where the fungi the larvae lived inside and ate was? Any dead trees or stumps nearby?

  14. Pleasing Fungus Beetles? A poetic moniker indeed.

    Before I moved it, the rock was snug up against the roots of a big Hackberry tree, at least sixty or seventy years old.

  15. I am in agreement with Marvin. When I first saw them I thought Sexton Beetle, too. But then realized they weren’t built right, but fit the
    shape and coloration of a Pleasing Fungus
    Beetle. I’m glad Marvin came up with the
    Latin name.

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  17. Pleasing names, either, but appreciate the care and though of all the commenters. As in, holy crap, what a delightful post/response.

  18. Those Beetle are superb and a beauty. Gota thank mothernature for such beauty

  19. Ow, I first thought they were little snakes! LOL!

  20. Pingback: International Rock Flipping Day

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