Facts About The Dung Beetle: The Manure King

The load that this strong manure beetle moves on is very fascinating. Want to know why? You may have already guessed.
Facts about the dung beetle: the manure king

The creature we are talking about today is widely known around the world as the dung beetle. Apart from where it gets its name, there are many other fascinating facts about this insect that we will reveal to you in this article. Keep reading to find out more facts about the dung beetle.

Facts about the manure beetle: what type of insect is it?

The term “dung beetle” refers to a very special group of insects. They fall within the Coleoptera order, which includes about 375,000 different species. The most famous Coleopteran with this name belongs to the genus Scarabeus, with S. viettei and S. laticollis as its two main representatives.

Morphologically, we are talking about insects that are of medium size with strong bones. The dung beetle uses these legs both to walk and dig, but also to form balls of feces. Usually their bodies have an intense metallic black color, although they can also have shades of blue, green and even yellow.

It is obvious that the most characteristic feature of this Coleoptera is its coprophagic behavior: it means that it eats feces. But it is not the only use it has for stool.

What does the other animal’s feces use for?

As soon as they detect the presence of feces, these animals fly to it in large swarms. By bringing several pieces together, they can turn a large pile of manure produced by a large animal (like an elephant) into a mat of undigested fibrous material. At this stage, the dung beetle breaks off some of the material and begins to shape it into a ball with its front legs.

Dung beetles doing their job.

The way the ram transports the ball of feces attracts a lot of attention, as it supports its front legs on the ground and uses its hind legs to roll the ball towards the tunnel it has already dug. Sometimes a second ram helps with this task. Other times, they dig the tunnel just below the stool, so they do not have to transport the ball.

Once they have stored one or more balls, they extract the liquid to eat it. This liquid is rich in nutrients and microorganisms. Nevertheless, the manure ball is also crucial for their larvae. When they have accumulated enough, the dung beetle divides the ball into small fragments. The females introduce their egg-laying tube and lay an egg.

These small fragments are then polished as the feces ferment, which provides the ideal conditions for the larvae to develop. When the larvae are ready and have completed their metamorphosis, they come to the surface in their adult form.

A bare manure beetle is helped with a manure ball.

The dung beetle navigates with the help of the Milky Way

Although it may sound very surprising, the latest research from Lund University in Sweden has confirmed that the dung beetle navigates with the help of the Milky Way. To reach the main layer at the end of the tunnel, these animals climb to the top of the ball and begin to rotate their bodies in all directions.

With their small eyes, they take “still images” of the position of celestial bodies and stars, and store the information in their brains. As a result, they can find their way to their destination reliably. Although similar behavior is already present in other insects, this is the first time that these “still” beetles have been detected. So far, the only insect capable of doing this is the dung beetle. An exceptional discovery, without a doubt.

Hope you found this fact about the dung beetle interesting.

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