Date set to reintroduce rare beetle in Missouri

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 | 10:36 a.m. CDT; updated 2:31 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ST. LOUIS — An endangered species of beetle will be reintroduced in southwest Missouri on June 5.

The St. Louis Zoo and its partners have set that date to reintroduce around 300 American burying beetles at Wah' Kon-Tah Prairie. The project is jointly managed by the zoo, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy.

The nocturnal beetles spend most of their lives underground. They're up to an inch-and-a-half long, with shiny black bodies and orange-red markings.

Experts call them "one of nature's recyclers," which is a nice way of saying they live off dead animals.

The American burying beetle was once found in 35 U.S. states and southern Canada. In 1989, it became the first insect designated as a federally endangered species.

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