Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 39(2): June 2007, pp 97-98


Copyright © 2007 The Great Plains Natural Science Society


Members of the beetle family Silphidae are relatively large (10-35 mm) and often brightly colored insects. They usually are found in association with dead animal bodies (carrion), but some are phytophagous while others are predatory. Thirty endemic species are known to occur in North America north of Mexico (Ratcliffe 1996), and 17 species in North Dakota. (Hanley et aI., unpublished data). To date, there has been little to no silphid collection data available from north central North Dakota counties, due mostly to the lack of entomological research in the area.

Nine species of silphids were collected in a single season of drift fence operation (Table 1), representing 53% of the known North Dakota fauna and 30% of the endemic North American fauna. Most specimens were collected from larger organisms, such as mice and shrews, that had fallen into the traps, died and begun to decay. However, Heterosilpha ramosa regularly was found in carrion-free traps. The most interesting record is that of Thanatophilus sagax, which has not been collected in North Dakota since 1967