Hello forum members.
I recently found this Sexton or Burying Beetle [ Nicrophorus vespilloides] in a hill wood in Scotland. The Sexton Beetle does a useful job by burying small dead animals and birds, on which it lay's its eggs for the larvae to feed. It nearly landed on my head but fell onto a bracken frond. Moving in to get a better view, I was aghast, it seemed covered in parasites but have since found that they are not. The small insect passengers are Gamasid Mites which use the beetle to gain access to another food source where they feed on carrion-fly eggs and maggots.,
It is indeed a superb image - this practice (on part of the mites) is known as phoresy - a bit like thumbing for a lift except your host (vehicle) is not necessarily aware that you have climbed aboard.
phoresy, transportation of one organism by another, more mobile one. The term is not applied to a parasitic relationship, but minute parasites may use this means of transport to colonize new hosts. For example, feather lice accomplish phoresy by clinging to the body hairs of blood-sucking flies.
Hi bombuslucorum. Thank you for information on phoresy. I have read in this instance, it is mutally avantageous to the mites and the Sexton Beetle. The mites get a food source and the beetle benefits because more rotting flesh is available to its young.