Unlike the 1960s talented British Invasion force of John, Paul, George and Ringo, some highly coveted American beetles are about to take center stage as they find their way into Ohio news and Ohio soil.
These guys are American burying beetles, colorful but somewhat creepy creatures that are federally protected and also carefully guarded by the Wilds personnel, who have bred pairs of them and are now releasing their offspring in hopes of establishing new burying beetle colonies at specific areas in the state.
The art of stocking burying beetles starts by identifying a male and female pair then allowing them to establish a relationship. Scientists at the Wilds place the pair in a five-gallon bucket filled with dirt and fueled with a bird carcass.
Sound romantic? Apparently it is, because within days the beetles bury the bird and their eggs. The decaying bird provides nutrients for the emerging beetle babies, a sort of meal plan for the youngsters if you will.
The resulting beetles can then be used to stock native habitat areas once defunct of burying beetles.
According to the Wilds vice president, Rick Dietz, in 1989 the American burying beetle was the first insect to be listed by the government as a federally protected endangered species.
The beetles bred and used for the re-introduction program are the first to be released in the Fernald Nature Preserve near Cincinnati. In early June another release will take place at the Wilds, the third annual event in an effort to establish burying beetle colonies there.
The Wilds is located just south of Cambridge and is open to the public. The nearly 10-thousand acre facility is home to several rare and endangered species from around the world, including African animals such as rhinos, and right down to the American burying beetles.
The Wilds is an Ohio treasure and a bucket list “must see” destination.
Dietz said the beetle program is especially rewarding for the Wilds staff, because the beetles are just one of many endangered species bred at the Wilds, but one of the very few species that are released into native habitat right on the facility grounds.