The dung beetle: an outstanding planetary citizen

Ancient Beliefs

  • In Ancient Egypt dung beetles, or scarabs, were worshiped.
  • Egyptians believed that the scarab was a god that rolled the sun across the sky and buried it each evening.
  • The sun emerged the next morning born anew.

Dung Beetle Facts

  • Insects part of the Scarabaeoidea family.
  • Feed partly or entirely on feces.
  • 3 dung beetle types: rollers (roll balls), tunnelers (bury dung where they find it) and dwellers (live in manure).
  • Possess super powerful front legs that can roll up to 50 times their own weight! 🙂
  • Have been around for over 50 million years.
  • There are over 7000 dung beetle species worldwide.

Dung Balls?

  • Dung beetles remove dung from cows/wild animals and form dung balls.
  • They have a very funny way of carrying around their “treasured prize”: heads down and bottoms up! 😉
  • Dung balls are the centerpiece of their new homes.
  • Once they’ve picked the right spot, the beetles dig a hole to burry the ball.
  • The female then lays her eggs in the new burrow.
  • When the eggs hatch, they feed on the dung and renew the whole cycle.

Vital Function

  • The abundance of dung beetles can be correlated with the abundance of flies. In other words, more dung beetles = less flies.
  • The recycling of the dung aerates the soil and the nutrients in the dung ball nourish the Earth.
  • Ultimately, this improves the nutrient cycle, betters the soil structure and encourages forage growth.

Just for Fun

Enjoy this fun dung beetle video by Rich Laburn (thanks man, you’re a champ ;)). And take a good look at the animal’s technique to know where it’s going…it rolls its ball, stops and climbs to the top to check its surroundings! 🙂

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3 Responses to The dung beetle: an outstanding planetary citizen

  1. hillsofafrica March 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    It was hilarious to watch! Thanks for including it above–glad you enjoyed it!

  2. hillsofafrica March 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    Dung beetles are extremely interesting to see in their natural habitat! While on a South Africa safari tour, we saw two dung beetles racing each other as they rolled two (quite large) balls of dung across the road. We caught it on video, which you can see on our YouTube channel (HillsofAfrica).

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