|Mites under front legs|
|Horn of horned passalus|
The puzzle of it color remained. It took eight sites on Google to find the answer. The Featured Creatures site of Florida University says:
"These young adults lack the characteristic black shell of the species, and instead have a red coloration when they emerge from the pupal stage. This red color slowly darkens to black, at which point the insect is considered a mature adult (Schuster and Schuster 1985)."
Knowing this I dug around the bag of ground up wood and beetles I brought back and sure enough, there was an older sibling I hadn't seen before which was very close to black. This proves once again that color can be deceptive when trying to identify species.
Both the last November blog and Featured Creatures have more detailed information on the interesting life cycle of these decomposers of wood. They only eat dead wood and thanks to them, bacteria and fungi, they enrich the soil. Without the decomposers, we would have dead logs hundreds of feet deep in our woods. Bless their little orange and black bodies.
No Beetles were killed in producing this blog.