Hister/ Clown beetlesEdit
The names of these beetles has been a mystery for a long time, the real reason is not really known, Hister was used to describe a "low, dirty individual" by the poet Juvenal (maybe referring to the eating habits), Hister is also latin for actor (histrio) this was thought to be a reason because of their "act" of feigning death when handled or disturbed (Bug Guide )and another reason was that the flat leg segments supposedly resembled the baggy clothes of clowns/ actors. Most Hister beetles are shiny and black, and resemble members of the scarab beetle family, but a few have bright orange and other colours on their elytra. The legs can be retracted into areas under their body when threatened. Some species appear to only have 4 legs as adults but really have 6.
Adults and larvae of Histerid beetles feed on dung, dead/ decaying animal bodies and larvae of insects. They can be found in animal burrows or anywere associated or near dung and carrion. In open areas these can be seen flying in large numbers with Aphodius scarab beetles, the difference being these fly earlier in the year. Look for Hister beetles in the month of May, when they are most active.