Guest post by Alicia Alexander, IPM intern
The dung beetle is a very beneficial beetle. Dung beetles, also known as tumblebugs, are part of the subfamily Scarabaeinae. They are all dark colored ranging from black or brown and can have a metallic green or copper look. Dung beetles can be shiny or dull in appearance. The North American species are between ½ and 1 inch long. Dung beetles have club shaped antennae and brush-like sieve mouths to help with slurping wet dung.
Dung beetles feed on feces and often prefer herbivore dung over carnivore dung because it’s packed with more nutrients. Most dung beetles have a great sense of smell, which helps find fresh dung quickly because the competition can get heavy.
The most commonly known dung beetles are the ball-rollers. These beetles will roll a ball of dung into a hole they have dug for either feeding purposes or to lay an egg inside. This dung ball will get buried in the ground by the beetle and the larva will live its life inside the brood ball feeding on the dung surrounding it until it emerges as a beetle. Dung beetles help fertilize the soil quickly and also help aerate the soil. By helping put nutrients back into the soil and improving soil structure many ranchers welcome the beetles. Getting rid of the dung quickly also reduces the number of flies and other pests.
So far one species of the dung beetle, the African dung beetle, is the only known insect that uses the Milky Way to navigate according to a 2012 research.
Why everyone should love dung beetles (Nature Writers of Texas Blog)