Length: 14 - 20 mm
Necrophila americana is not easily confused with any other beetle, with its relatively large size, rounded form, and the yellow pronotum with its black central spot. The elytra are black and feature ridges and tubercles.
In females, the apex of each elytron has a diagonal shape, viewed from above, and is usually yellow-tipped. Males have the apex of each elytron rounded and black-tipped.
Adults overwinter and reproduce beginning in late spring, in most areas producing one brood per year. Larvae feed on carrion, particularly the drier parts such as hide and sinew. Adults feed on the larvae of flies found in carrion, as well as on carrion itself.
The American Carrion Beetle is most often found in marshy areas or in forests, and is diurnal.
Some authors state that this species mimics a certain cuckoo bumblebeeboth in appearance and flight behavioras a defensive strategy.
The genus Necrophila has some twenty species, and all but Necrophila americana are found only in Asia (including the Indian subcontinent).
Necrophila americana lives in the eastern United States and as far west as Oklahoma and Nebraska. In Canada the species is recorded from Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.