ISSN 1911-2173


Creophilus maxillosus (Linnaeus 1758)

Figure 3.1.1 Creophilus maxillosus villosus Gravenhorst, pronotum. 11.1.1 C. m. villosus, habitus. 11.1.2 C. m. villosus, escape mechanism on dead raccoon. 11.1.3 C. m. maxillosus (L.), forebody, showing mostly dark setae. 11.1.4 C. m. villosus, forebody, showing mostly pale setae.


Creophilus maxillosus is easily distinguished from other Staphylinina by its largely impunctate pronotum (Fig. 3.1.1) and thick covering of black and yellow setae (Fig. 11.1.1). It cannot be confused with any other species of the subtribe.


This is a very widespread species, which occurs across North America, northern Central America, the West Indies, the entire Palearctic region (Newton et al. 2000), Chile, Argentina (Navarrete-Heredia et al. 2002), and Peru (Asenjo and Clarke 2007). Its range in ECAS is given by Map 4.  

Eastern Canada: ON, QC, NB, NL, NS, PE (All ECAS Provinces)

Adjacent U.S.: MI, IN, OH, PA, NY, VT, NH, ME (All ECAS States)

In ECAS, Creophilus maxillosus has been collected from February to December, with no apparent seasonality. This species overwinters as an adult.



Adults and larvae of this species are found primarily on carrion of all kinds and rarely on dung, compost, or at UV lights. Larvae are typically found on larger, more persistent carrion. C. maxillosus inhabits grassy and open forested habitats and is often encountered on lake and ocean shorelines (Majka et al. 2008).

Adults and larvae are predators, mainly of maggots and adult flies, but also of other arthropods attracted to carrion. Adults will form their bodies into a tight ball and roll off carrion into leaf litter when disturbed (Fig. 11.1.2). For defense against other arthropods, C. maxillosus has an eversible Y-shaped gland at the apex of the abdomen that produces iridodiols and other repellant compounds (Huth and Dettner 1990). Other species of Staphylinina also have this gland and produce similar secretions dominated by iridodial (Huth and Dettner 1990).

Two subspecies occur in ECAS: the native and widespread villosus Gravenhorst and the Palearctic maxillosus L., which is known from scattered records from Ontario, Québec, and Massachusetts as early as 1929 (Québec). Creophilus m. maxillosus can be most reliably differentiated from C. m. villosus by the dark pubescence on the hind angles of the head (Fig. 11.1.3), which is pale yellow in the native subspecies (Fig. 11.1.4).