Hey It’s Carcass Time!!

While George is playing around with his ‘FS1 Psuedocorpse‘ (we demand updates!!), up north and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAout west we have real corpses. Because our two lane county roads have speed limits faster than the Interstates back east, I am proud to say we have carcasses a-plenty along our roadways! AND as anyone who knows anything about biology knows the smellier it is the more biology it contains – this is the basic truth behind your freshman biology students exclaiming: “Biology STINKS!”

Yes indeed, Virginia, Biology does stink! Today OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhile enjoying the aroma of this mostly thawed carcass, I saw two adult flies, numerous maggots, and 4 beetles. I managed to capture one beetle – a tiny, dark one. Y’know, 15 feet off a busy road poking around in a stinky, mostly thawed deer carcass may not be most people’s idea of a good time, but then most people do not know how to have fun.

OK, we have all seen the photos of so called biologists (or better yet ‘researchers’) in pristine habitats studying nature, anybody with a couple hundred thousand dollars in funding can do that. Heck, there are even those fancy forensic entomologists who actually buy carcasses and put them in scenic work locations. But for my money (or lack thereof), a stinky roadside carcass in an ugly roadside habitat is hours of biologist entertainment and possibly enlightenment.

Mmmm-mmm – can you smell the biology?

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11 thoughts on “Hey It’s Carcass Time!!

  1. George Sims

    Okay. Here’s the latest. I let the porkchop bone stay out almost a month, in temperatures that were around freezing each day. The thing finally just got hard and dry. About a week after I set out the bone, I went to the butcher and got a bagful of scrap meat, which I hung up in the woodshed in a plastic bag to “ripen”. Again, the weather stayed cold, and it didn’t get very stinky. About 10 days ago, I threw the bone away, and replaced it with two chunks of the meat scraps. The weather’s STILL remained cold, and nothing attracted, so far. NOTHING>

    Reply
      1. George Sims

        Don’t know about the rats, but we’ve got LOTS of squirrels here. Maybe I should dust off my 43-year-old Marine Corps Sharpshooter Badge and see if I can bag some. Since I’ve only fired a weapon about a dozen times in the intervening 43 years, this MIGHT not work out too well. I wonder if the amount of hair on a squirrel might slow down the decomp process, as contrasted with a rat.

      2. biologistsoup Post author

        Squirrels decompose just fine. Are you looking for Trox or Nicrophorus? Just a warning that Nicrophorus americana is an endangered species that is attracted to fresh carcasses. Finding the species in SW MO would be awesome! Reporting dead ones may be expensive… you may want to swap the antifreeze in the pitfall for dirt and run your trap daily (every morning) if you are shooting for Nicrophorus. A good reference: Bedick, J.C., B.C. Ratcliffe, and L.G. Higley. 2004. A new sampling protocol for the endangered American burying beetle, Nicrophorus americanus Olivier (Coleoptera: Silphidae). The Coleopterists’ Bulletin 58: 57-70.

  2. George Sims

    By the way, I got all excited when I read about these beetles, since I thought I had some in my collection–the name seemed familiar. Turns out MY silphids are Necrophila americana, the first of which I found at a neighbor’s outdoor fishfry when somebody spilled a plate of baked beans, thus attracting the beetle.

    Reply
      1. George Sims

        I LOVE the little black marking on the yellow pronotum. Actually both my specimens were found by my nine-year-old daughter and her “bug buddy”. Printing out the Nicrophorus paper. ANOTHER new project!!

  3. George Sims

    Good ideas for building traps; however, looks like I need to wait at least a couple more months before setting them out. Can use the time to fill the freezer with carrion.

    Reply
    1. biologistsoup Post author

      Amanda will be much happier if you quit the charade of calling it a freezer and begin calling it a biological specimen cryo-storage facility. Then it seems generous that you allow the frozen peas to have any space within. There is a gentleman in Missouri with four freezers full of insect specimens – now that is something to shoot for!

      Reply
  4. George Sims

    Just converted all the dimensions from metric into easily-understood-inches, and preparing to build a whole BUNCH of those PVC pipe-carrion beetle traps, now that I can figure out the sizes. Will go into the lumberyard tomorrow and buy a lot of PVC. Probably will be a bit more durable than the Fothergill Model 1 soda bottle models. This was the first day that it’s been warm enough to sit out in the yard and observe insects…er…drink beer. Nothing but dipterans and a wasp or two.

    Reply

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