Posts Tagged ‘insects’

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

creepy crawling creatures

January 27th, 2010, posted in Educating You

Taking delight in creepy crawling creatures

I encourage you to take your children outdoors to explore what is around them. Going on a nature walk with Joshua usually means I must take the insect book with.  He is fascinated with creepy crawling creatures and will spend as much time as I allow staring at the insect and asking questions about its habitat, food preferences, predators, colouring, defence mechanisms and asking what sound it makes!

It is quite humbling. I’m the parent, right?  So I have all the answers, right? Wrong, oh so very wrong! The more we live in this wonderful outdoor world of arthropods, the more I have to learn because I know so little.

So it’s back to searching for them on the ground and researching them back home! It makes for wonderful hone-schooling projects too, we count the legs and appendages and classify them, then together (child and adult) we learn all about our subject!

Are we as adults too tall to bend down and look at the little things in life?  Is that why we miss them? My dear friends, there is a reason for us to take time to smell the roses – when we bend down, we may see the ladybird eating the aphid on the stalk of the rose and the camouflaged spider on its petal and the butterfly on the rose next to it.

What a wonderful world we live in. Take delight in the creepy crawling creatures – you will learn a thing or too from them!

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