Effort to bolster beetle in Missouri continues

A colorful and once-thriving beetle is being reintroduced this month in Missouri, part of an ongoing effort to boost the numbers of a bug known as one of nature's recyclers.

Since 2012, the St. Louis Zoo, Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Missouri Department of Conservation have collaborated to improve the population of American burying beetles at Wah'Kon-Tah Prairie in southwest Missouri. Toward that goal, the beetles are being bred at the zoo then periodically reintroduced at the prairie site.

The zoo said 168 beetles were taken to Wah'Kon-Tah on June 3, and 180 more will be reintroduced Tuesday.

The beetle feeds on dead flesh of quail and other animals. Conservationists say it plays a necessary role in the ecosystem of the prairie.