Conservationists say endangered beetle species found in Ohio | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Conservationists say endangered beetle species found in Ohio

1299675_web1_1299675-d3d6e394002942baa77e372940da25f8
Stephanie Hylinski of the Boonshoft Museum in Dayton holds a pair of American burying beetles before releasing them at The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. The beetles were the first insect to be named to the federally endangered list.
1299675_web1_1299675-94effb8308fa4316bd348af8e0c4e89b

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When she saw the plump orange-and-black insect crawling on the rotting rat corpse, Andrea Malek didn’t know whether to cry, laugh or scream in celebration.

After a double take, she did all three.

It was a discovery 45 years in the making. Sitting at the bottom of her trap fashioned from a 5-gallon plastic bucket was an American burying beetle, a federally endangered species that hadn’t been found living in Ohio since 1974 — until now, that is.

And Malek didn’t find just one. She found three of the beetles at The Wilds last month: two females and a male, which she marked with tiny bee tags.

“It’s like having your best dream come true,” said Malek, a 25-year-old wildlife ecology technician from Zanesville. “It’s just amazing that all of our hard work is finally paying off.”

The American burying beetles are important because they turn decay into compost and help keep ecosystems in balance and clean, she said.

The beetle was once the most-common burying beetle in the country, found in 35 states in the eastern United States and parts of Canada. It was the first insect to be placed on the federal endangered species list, and that distinction has stuck since 1989.

Today, the insect remains in only a handful of states.

It’s believed the species is dwindling because of a lack of appropriately sized food sources, especially following the extinction of the once-abundant passenger pigeon in 1914. The beetle can’t bury animals that are too large. Animals that are too small, meanwhile, don’t provide enough food.

It’s also possible that light pollution, more competition from larger scavengers, increases in pesticide use and sweeping land-use changes might have hurt the beetle, experts say.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.