Creophilus maxillosus (Linnaeus, 1758)

This large and very distinctive staphylinid occurs throughout the British Isles. It is generally common and often abundant although, because of its feeding habits, seldom encountered. Adults and larvae are carniverous and feed on other insects, more especially on dipterous larve in a variety of habitats. In hot weather they may be found on dung pasture, either flying above the ground or active upon dung, feeding on other insects, in this situation adults move very quickly and are difficult to observe. They are also found among decaying vegetation of all types eg compost heaps or around large decaying fungi. They are attracted to the smell of decay and no doubt for this reason we have observed them outside Watford market, nocturnally active where outlet fans ventilate underground storage areas and where, incidentally, fast food remains are often discarded. Decaying carrion rarely fails to attract this species and usually in numbers, here the adults will appear as soon as maggots (etc) become active, the beetles usually remain hidden beneath the sample and when disturbed will either take flight very quickly or disappear into soil crevices or the corpse itself. The easiest way to record this species is by using carrion traps. Adults are active from early spring to October or November. The species is common throughout the Watford area.

15-22mm. The large size and stout build coupled with the distinctive pattern of pubescence will identify this beetle. Ocypus olens (Muller) is as large but lacks the pubescence. The very rare Emus hirtus (L.) (The Maid of Kent), a large staphylinid of similar habits has distinctive golden pubsecence to the head and towards the end of the abdomen.