Dung beetles on the loose

The other night I was walking through a forest, and stopped to admire a particularly fine spider web in a tree. Then I noticed that something at my feet was moving under the earth. oooooh, zombies? clearly, i had been watching too much Netflix. The fact that parts of a particularly large cow poop were moving near little tunnels in the ground, was interesting, and I could clearly see 4 very large black beetles at work.

Here are some more images and some facts about them:


Dung beetles are coprophagous insects, meaning they eat the excrement of other organisms. Although not all dung beetles eat poop exclusively, they all eat faeces at some point in their lives. Most prefer to feed on herbivore droppings, which are largely undigested plant matter, rather than carnivore waste, which holds very little nutritional value for insects.



These beetles seemed to be living in tunnels below the dung, making a burrow that can then be easily provisioned with poop. Using cow patties where they dropped, rather than investing energy in moving it.




The female usually deposits an egg in its own tiny dung sausage. When the larvae emerge, they are well-supplied with food, enabling them to complete their development within the safe environment of the nest.