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Dung Beetles

Dung Beetles

Dung beetles have dark, round bodies, six legs and long flying wings folded under hard, protective covers. Some male dung beetles have strong horns on their heads, too. Found worldwide on every continent except Antartica, these brilliant bugs live in habitats ranging from hot, dry deserts to lush forests.

Life Cycle


https://www.hluhluwegamereserve.com/dung-beetle-facts/

The article link above is summarised below for all sorts of information about dung beetles:

Beetle Facts

Dung beetles:

  • Belong to super family Scarabaeoidea consisting of 5000 species;
  • Are also known as scarab beetles;
  • Are divided into Rollers, Tunnelers and Dwellers (see diagram below): Telecoprid roll the famous balls of dung. Endocoprids lay their eggs in a pile of dung. Paracoprid dig down below dung and Kleptocorprid steal balls of dung;
  • Feed on dung;
  • Use dung as a breeding chamber for their eggs;
  • Have a keen sense of smell and can detect dung from great distances;
  • Prefer herbivore droppings for their plant matter content;
  • Telecoprid use their legs to create large balls of dung (if you see dung being rolled it is primarily to feed their young);
  • Prefer fresh dung which is moist and easy to work with;
  • Are one of the few insects that show parental care to their young.

Types of Dung Beetle

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Environmental Importance of Dung Beetles

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2001/05/03/environment/how-dung-beetles-came-to-save-australia/

The article link above is summarised below:

  1. Dung attracts flies which lay their eggs in the material, breeding swarms of flies. Dung beetles recycle dung within as little as 48 hours, eliminating fly eggs in the process. So much dung is processed so quickly that bush-fly reproduction can been reduced by 80-100 percent.
  2. They also break down dung piles quickly, spreading the benefits of the dung evenly as fertilizer through the soil.
  3. By burrowing into the soil, they aerate it and improve drainage so that the soil doesn’t become waterlogged so easily.
  4. They bury the balls of dung quickly, adding nitrogen to the soil that would have otherwise escaped into the atmosphere in gaseous form.

Dung beetle on rhino dung

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Dung beetle burying dung

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The following short video sums up information about dung beetles while showing beetles at work in Kyle National Park and Hwange National Park.

Paddy Pacey

Paddy Pacey

Teacher, Lecturer, Author, Facilitator, Safari Guide

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