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American Burying Beetle

Rhode Island State Insect

Endangered American burying beetle state insect of Rhode Island. Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie / Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Official State Insect of Rhode Island

Rhode Island designated the endangered American burying beetle as the official state insect on July 14, 2015 thanks to the third graders at St. Michael’s Country Day School in Newport. All State Insects

Once a resident of at least 35 states, the American burying beetle is now found in only six: Rhode Island, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Kansas, and Arkansas (with attempts being made to reintroduce it into Ohio and Massachusetts). It was put on the endangered species in 1989. Thanks to conversation efforts, the American burying beetle was reclassified as threatened in November 2020.

The American burying beetle is a member of the carrion beetle family (Silphidae) and is the largest carrion beetle in North America. The burying beetle is a nocturnal scavenger that helps recycle decaying material back into the ecosystem. The largest carrion-frequenting insect in North America; the American burying beetle can reach 1-1/2 inches in length.