Friday, March 27, 2015

Blog Tour: The Last of the Sandwalkers

A number of you are probably looking at the repeated word "beetles" on this blog tour banner and scratching your heads (possibly because you feel like there might be beetles on you now that I've brought it up), but I really love participating in tours that are a little different, and the group at First Second Books (and Macmillan in general) never disappoint!

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Jay Hosler to the blog to share with us some facts about the Carrion-Burying Beetle Family, along with a custom illustration. While you may suffer a slight loss of appetite after reading about this particular family of insects, you'll at least have newfound knowledge to pass along at your next social gathering! Nerd win. Be sure and check out Jay's newest release, The Last of the Sandwalkers for more fascinating tidbits about the insect world!

Character Name:  The Carrion-Burying Beetle family
Species:  Nicrophorus sp
Length:  25-35 mm
Color: Black with organge markings on the elytra
Habitat:  all over the place
Superpower: masters of food preparation

Most of us are familiar with the numerous, gigantic families of honey bees, wasp and ants. They usually contain a massive queen pumping out babies that are cared for by thousands (sometimes millions) of siblings. These are industrial-sized, assembly line families. By comparison, there aren’t too many social beetles and those that are social run more of a Mom-and-Pop operation.

Burying beetles start their family by looking for something dead. They have antennae that are tuned into the odors associated with rotting corpses. After a male of female has located a dead mouse or bird, they will wait for a member of the opposite sex to show up. Once united, the couple may have to fend off other couples that also want the yummy dead thing.

In some cases, the carcass needs to be moved to a suitable location for burial. To do this, the beetles will crawl under the corpse, lay on their backs, lift with their legs and shift the body. Imagine getting under your car, lifting with you hands and legs and moving the car down the road a couple inches at a time. Impressive. You can watch them at work in the National Geographic video.

Eventually the winning couple will bury the carcass and remove any skin, hair and feathers. Then, the beetles will treat the dead critter with digestive enzymes, anti-microbial and anti-fungal secretions from their mouths and butts. As the carcass is turning into a pasty, grey goo, the female lays eggs around the chamber and waits for the larvae to hatch and crawl over to the food. The parents look over the larva as they develop and prepare for metamorphosis. At this point, the larvae burrow into the surrounding chamber walls and begin the pupation period. With their parenting work done, the adult burying beetles will leave the burial chamber in search of a new carcass.

In Last of the Sandwalkers, our beetle explorers meet a family of burying beetle and make a surprising discovering in their food.

• • • • • • • • • • • 

(releases April 7th)

Nestled in the grass under the big palm tree by the edge of the desert there is an entire civilization—a civilization of beetles. In this bug's paradise, beetles write books, run restaurants, and even do scientific research. One such scientist is Lucy, who leads a team of researchers out into the desert. Their mission is to discover something about the greater world...but what lies in wait for them is going to change everything Lucy thought she knew.

Beetles are not the only living creatures in the world.

• • • • • • • • • • • •


Photo: Lisa Hosler

Jay Hosler is a biology professor at Juniata College, and a cartoonist. He enjoys telling stories about science and the natural world, and his first graphic novel (Clan Apis) won a Xeric Award and was selected for YALSA's 2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. His latest book, Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth, was a 2011 Junior Library Guild selection, a nominee for YALSA's 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and has been included in the Texas Library Association's Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and his two little nerdlings.

• • • • • • • • • • • • •


Don't forget to check out the rest of the participating blogs for additional beetle info as well as original artwork from Jay!

Tuesday, March 24
Seven Impossible Things

Wednesday, March 25
Great Kid Books

Thursday, March 26
The Brain Lair

Friday, March 27
Supernatural Snark

Monday, March 30
The Book Rat

Tuesday, March 31
Miss Print

Wednesday, April 1
Mr. Schu Reads

Thursday, April 2
Geek Dad

 Friday, April 3

Monday, April 6
Librarian’s Quest

Tuesday, April 7
SLJ Scope Notes

Wednesday, April 8
Alice Marvels

Thursday, April 9
The Roarbots

Friday, April 10
Sharp Read


  1. The whole mom and pop beetle thing is kind of adorable (if you can ignore the dead carcass part :D). Thanks for sharing! I have a copy of The Last of the Sandwalkers and I'm excited to read it!

    1. Heh. Yes. Let's ignore that part ;-) Can't wait to see what you think Lauren!

  2. Oh my gosh I never even knew that this is what beetles did, but at the same time it has me a little creeped out like I have little beetles crawling all over me, I guess I'm just glad that I hadn't eaten anything yet! Thanks for sharing Jenny! :)

    1. You're welcome for making you feel like you might have beetles crawling on you Jasprit ;-)

  3. Mom & Pop beetle civilization operations? *giggles* I feel like since I have a strong stomach in account of being a nurse I'd enjoy this book loads as long as it doesn't remind me at any point of huge beetles crawling over me and eating my flesh like the Mummy ones... *shudders*

    1. Lucky you Pili! I do NOT have a strong stomach. At all. *tries not to think of beetle secretions* ;-)

  4. Huh. Burying beetles who move rotting corpses and then lay their eggs all over them . . . just the thought of that bugs me . . . *groan* on the pun.
    Seriously tho', the book does sound fascinating (I'm a HUGE fan of all things "nature") and love the author's clever illustrations. I'll be reading this!!!!

  5. At first I was like this is very cute - like a young beetle archaeologist discovering the remains of a strange creature in the desert. Then I was like ooh-wow, this is very descriptive. Lol. Thanks for sharing - I need to show this to my daughter (youngest) - my oldest would run away from me before I could finish.

    Happy Friday, Jenny :)

    1. Hahahaha descriptive it was Kim! Indeed:) Happy Friday (Saturday?!)

  6. Sounds creepy-cute. I'd definitely give this a try, just because my son would love it if I did :) Great share.

    1. This definitely seems like something young boys would be really interested in:) Lots of fun, slightly gross facts!

  7. Ick but so fascinating at the same time and I admit, I love the illustrations!
    This was a fun guest post Jenny! Thanks for sharing it with us and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

    1. Me too! I definitely want to check out the rest of the tour so I can see more of them:)

  8. This would have been wonderful when my boys were young. They loved anything that is icky and gooey! And the illustrations would make it so much fun. A great way to introduce science! Thanks for sharing Jenny

    1. Um. Pretty sure they still love anything icky and gooey. Or with names like Poppycock ;-)

  9. I love this! I also know the perfect persons for the book. The illustrations are cute! (yes, I mean it... LOL)

  10. this book sound interesting, Thanks for sharing Jenny :D