Posts Tagged ‘dung beetle’

Dodge the Dung!

December 15th, 2011, posted in Creatures Great & Small, Educating You

I’m driving on the game reserve, slowly looking at the bright new colours of the leaves in the bush, hoping to catch a glimpse of a bird. I take my time, the road is gravel and we’re not in a rush anyway – Pieter and Joshua are on the back and all of a sudden I hear “Dodge the Dung!”

I look at the road and swerve – missing the elephant dung by an inch or two.  Not very responsible for a nature conservationist!  Alas, I had been too busy admiring the environment, rather than concentrating on where I was driving!  Thus the blog about dodging the dung!

After good rains in South Africa (end October/November), the dung beetles arrive in full force – collecting fresh dung as food and/or as nurseries!

You’ll find a variety of dung beetles hard at work rolling dung balls – if you are driving and watching where you drive 🙂 you’ll see them on the road – both tar and gravel, if you’re on a game path – you’ll see them along the path and if you are staying on a game reserve – then they’ll be wherever there is a fresh pile of dung! 

Dung beetles play an important role in the ecosystem – cleaning up animal waste and converting it into a ball that sustains their life!

Dung beetles are of the Family Scarabaeidae. This family of beetles are easily recognised by their antennae, which have an apical club of 3-7 flat, expanded, moveable plates that can open out fanwise.

Unlike their cousins (the Chafer’s), Dung beetles are all highly beneficial to their environment!  My son welcomes these busy creatures each season when his chore of “poop-scooping” is taken away by the dung beetles. They don’t seem to mind using doggy-doo either, as long as it’s dung, it gets rolled up in ball and rolled away!

Checking direction before continuing to roll the ball of dung

Large copper dung beetle

Nursing Dung Beetle

October 20th, 2009, posted in Creatures Great & Small

The Nursing Dung Beetle (Copris mesacanthus) has a 17mm body. It has a long rhino-type horn which is why some people confuse it with the Rhinoceros Dung Beetle. The adults fashion soil-coated brood balls from dung.  These are taken down burrows below or beside fresh dung pads.  Some dung is retained as food.

The Male Nursing Beetle

The Male Nursing Beetle

The Name was given to this species of Dung Beetle because the female stays in the nest with its progeny until they are big enough to collect their own dung!

Late afternoon sighting of a male Nursing dung beetle

Late afternoon sighting of a male Nursing dung beetle

Just look at the size!

Just look at the size!