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Dung Beetles

These fascinating beetles belong to the family Carabidae and the sub- family Scarabaeinae. Some species are black in colour whilst others can have iridescent metallic colours ranging from wine red to green. They utilize herbivore dung both as food and as a nursery for their brood. Dung is formed into a ball and buried in holes beneath a dung pile or rolled away to some convenient location. Eggs are laid into the ball before it is buried. Some species lay eggs directly into the pile of dung itself.After a period of incubation, the young hatch out and feed on the surrounding dung before eventually emerging as adults.

Dung balls of the Telecoprids ( the most well known of the dung beetles shown above) are sometimes found excavated by honey badgers, civet, jackal and other animals. As they are rolled to a site chosen by the beetle the balls accumulate soil on the wet dung which hardens to a protective outer covering. Civets and other animals will bite through this to get at the larvae inside. Much can be said about dung beetles but one of the most important points to be made here is that they effectively assist in the breakdown and metabolism of dung in the natural environment.