Entomology (Study of Bugs)/small flat beetle

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I live in NE Ohio, an hour southeast of Cleveland. today (April 9th) while outside this beetle landed on my arm. As i watched it tuck it's wings in neatly I noticed it had about 20 little hitchhikers on it's body. They looked like mites of some type but maybe they were offspring. Not sure. It was small and flat and the riders even smaller so it was difficult to see.
I shot several photos and cropped in for a good look. I'll attach. I took several next to a dime for comparison. Sadly, during the photos a gust of wind blew it and the paper it was on off the taple and into the yard...lost it.
I searched many online sites to identify it but could not find anything like it. I'm an outdoor person and have seen many things but rarely something i could not identify. I was hoping you could tell me what it is and also what those parasitic looking creatures were. I want to read all about it.
Thank you.

Answer
Marvin,

Excellent photos and this makes for an interesting story, one told in countless entomology classes. This is a dung beetle and the hitch-hikers are indeed mites. The mites are parasitic on fly larvae that develop in dung and use the beetle to get from one dung pile to the next (fresher) pile. (My guess is you live near a farm where large dung-making animals are housed.) The whole process of the mites using the beetle for transport to new food sources is called phoresy, and the mites are said to be "phoretic".

Thanks for an interesting question. You might consider submitting the photos to www.bugguide.net.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.

Experience

20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

Publications
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology

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