Dung beetles are an extremely important part of the African bush, and also in most other countries where wildlife occurs, they are found on all continents except for Antarctica (Australia had some dung beetles imported from South Africa to solve their excessive amounts of dung lying around problem!) There are over 5000 species of dung beetle in the world.
Dung beetles begin to occur close to the end of November, like most other insects, after there has been a sufficient amount of rain!
As the month continues, you start to see piles of dung that almost seem to, come to life, because of the Dung Beetles. At closer inspection you would find 100’s of these dung beetles on the dung pile, each one of the with a specific task and a specific way of using the dung.
The 1st and the most common to see is the Roller dung beetle – With its shovel like head as its tool it cuts the dung into a ball, and with the help of shovel shaped forelegs compacts it, into a neat round ball. When complete the ball is rolled away from the dung pile, by moving in reverse (Back legs pushing the ball and front legs supporting it on the ground!) It is said that the dung beetle can move a dung ball in this way that is up to 50 times its own body weight. Incredible!
The Roller dung beetles roll and bury the dung either for food storage or for use as brooding balls! In the brooding case, you will see two beetles around the ball during rolling, female either following or attached to the ball. They find a soft piece of soil and bury the brood ball, the male and female then mate underground. After mating the brood ball is prepared and eggs are laid inside it.
The dung beetle will not eat the actual dung as an adult, this is only done when it is a larvae, the rest of its life it will drink the juices of the dung by squeezing it with their mandibles!