All former publications on the reproductive biology of burying beetles (genus Necrophorus) state that in these species copulations take place on carcasses only, this being the only place for the sexes to meet. Our laboratory investigations have shown that males emit pheromones if no carrion is around. We now present data from a field investigation showing the effects of pheromone emission by males that have not secured a carcass. Such males are successful in attracting conspecific females. But conspecific males and individuals of other species are also attracted by the scent. Possible benefits for attracted individuals of different species and sex are discussed.

Pheromone emission and attraction of conspecifics are restricted to a distinct species-specific period of the day in at least two of the common species.