This interesting insect feeds primarily on carrion. The beetle buries the bodies of small dead vertebrates to serve as food for their young. Burying beetle larvae receive much parental care, which is critical for their survival.
The species once was widely distributed across eastern North America, including 32 states and Canada. According to the USFWS, the beetle's range has been reduced to populations in Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Texas. The beetle is known to occur in Franklin, Little River, Logan, Scott and Sebastian counties in Arkansas. The IUCN Red Data Book (Wells et al. 1983) refers to this species decline as "one of the most disastrous declines of an insect's range ever to be recorded."
Its decline has been attributed to a variety of factors, including disappearance of old-growth deciduous forests, decreasing populations of the small mammals and birds on which the insects feed and rear their young, and competition from vertebrate scavengers.