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Insect: Dung beetles

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bwana
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Insect: Dung beetles

Unread postby bwana » Tue Jan 25, 2005 8:26 pm

I was expecting to see them in their hundreds but we never saw one when we where there. Why? Are they seasonal or area specific? Whilst in Addo a couple of years ago, we saw lots and had all to do in order to miss them with the car.

Titbit: In the first edition of Jock and the Bushveld a dung beetle was shown pushing a ball of dung with its front legs. Unfortunatly for the artist, dung beetles use their back legs, resulting in reprints of the book being necessary!
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Jan 26, 2005 7:05 am

I normally see one here and there. If you go on the walks you'll see some.

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Dung beetles

Unread postby francoisd » Wed Jan 26, 2005 8:30 am

We normally try and enter KNP in the far north and work our way down to the south. The lack of dung beetles in the greater part of the Park is something that I notice on every trip. The largest concentrations we normally find around Pretoriuskop, but we also get them in other areas close to the South of the Park.

We came across this "honeymoon couple" on the S25 in Nov 04.

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wildtuinman
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Jan 26, 2005 8:44 am

So it seems that there are a bit more around the Southern part of the Park. Does anyone know the reason why?

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Unread postby bwana » Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:17 am

wildtuinman wrote:So it seems that there are a bit more around the Southern part of the Park. Does anyone know the reason why?


Maybe the soil is softer in the southern part making it easier to bury their payload?
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Unread postby Meg » Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:19 am

Oddly I've never struggled to find these little chaps - quite often seeing whole colonies of them cleaning up the roads after ellies. I wonder if they get danger pay... :lol:
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:23 am

After the first good summer rains you will find them all of a sudden venturing around. Keep your eyes peeled for them soon.
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Unread postby Guinea Pig » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:30 am

You do realise I'm now paranoid about driving around dung even if as dry as the veld now is? :lol:

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Unread postby francoisd » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:10 am

These little creatures are a favourite of mine and I examine most dung heaps in and next to the road for there presence.

I've noticed that the are not that prevelant in the Northern part of the Park as in the south with the most found around Pretoriuskop.

Any specific reason for this? Maybe soil type, specific dung they prefer?
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:18 am

francoisd wrote:These little creatures are a favourite of mine and I examine most dung heaps in and next to the road for there presence.

I've noticed that the are not that prevelant in the Northern part of the Park as in the south with the most found around Pretoriuskop.

Any specific reason for this? Maybe soil type, specific dung they prefer?


Ja they like Sable dung more. :twisted:

Francoisd, PKop has got the highest rainfall in the Park and Pafuri the lowest, thus I would think that this might be a big part of the equation. They only appear after the first good rains.
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:20 am

Also rhino dung seems to be a favourite. We were told on the bushman's trail that if you were to dig in a rhino "toilet" that you would find them.
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Unread postby DuQues » Wed Sep 07, 2005 10:29 am

Dung beetles are a relatively modern group of beetles and their fossils only extend back to 40 million years ago. They belong to the family Scarabaeidae and are also known as scarabs. They are scavengers, which feed on dung and other decaying organic matter, and play an invaluable role in keeping the veld clean.
The ancient Egyptians revered them as a symbol of renewed life. Khepri was a scarab god of the sun and the important symbolism came from the scarab's rolling his ball of dung then taking it down into the soil from where new life later emerged. Hence Kepri rolled the sun across the sky and buried it each evening, was born anew in the morning and rolled the sun across the sky again. Egyptian priests seem to have thought that the scarabs ball of dung was equivalent to his egg, they believed all sacarbs were male therefore, because he did not need a female for reproduction. They reasoned that if both the sun and a scarab beetle could be reborn in a special container in the ground then why couldn't people. It is now believed by some modern scholars that the Egyptian mummy in its tomb/pyramid was a representation of the pupa of S. sacer in the remains of its ball of dung in the earth. Scarab amulets became immensely popular and remained that way for centuries and are the most common archeological relics from the N. African region.

They are small to large, usually stout-bodied, and are easily recognized by the 3 to 7 segmented fan-like antennal club. Their legs are powerful, particularly the front legs, which are armed with teeth on the outer edge. In some species the legs are adapted to rolling balls of dung to a suitable soft spot, and for digging holes in which the dung is buried. The buried dung serves as a source of food for adult beetles, and also for the larvae when they hatch from eggs laid on the dung-balls.
Each brood ball contains a single egg and is coated in a clay shell. The parent beetles abandon the chamber soon after the eggs have hatched.
The larvae, also called white grubs, are greyish-white to bluish-white in colour, C-shaped, and also feed on decaying organic matter, such as tree stumps, and the roots of plants.

In 1973 a guy called Jo Anderson recorded the action as it happened at a small 1.5 Kg pile of Elephant dung on the African savannah. In two hours that small pile of dung attracted 16 000 dung beetles of various shapes and sizes, who between them had eaten and or buried that dung completely in just those two hours. Typhaeus typhoeus the Minotaur Beetle (A UK species) can dig burrows up to one metre deep

All dung beetles are scarabs, but not all scarabs are dung beeties. For instance, the protea beetle (Trichostetha fascicularis) gathers nectar from various species of proteas.

Dung beetles serve a number of very important ecological functions. The digging activity of tunnelling beetles results in the aeration of soil as well as the transfer of nutrients to the soil by releasing the nutrients in the dung. Also, dung beetles break down dung and prevent flies from breeding in it.
Since cattle and other members of their family (the Bovidae) are not indigenous to Australia. where marsupial herbivores such as kangaroos occur instead, there are very few insects other than flies that feed on their dung. Over the years. flies have reached epidemic proportions in the grazing areas of Australia, and the accumulation of unburied cow-pats has made pastures repellent to domestic stock. In order to control the flies and to destroy the pats, at least four species of South African dung beetles have been introduced into Australia. Unfortunately, the experiment has been only partly successful and the problem is still being investigated.

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Unread postby Pilane » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:45 pm

wildtuinman wrote:
Also rhino dung seems to be a favourite. We were told on the bushman's trail that if you were to dig in a rhino "toilet" that you would find them.


This will be the group belonging to the para- and endo- coprids
the Endo coprids live in the dung and the para coprids under the dung (midden) these two dung beetles groups do not roll balls of dung. (some species of para coprids will roll a ball and bury it directly under the dung) The tele- coprids are ball rollers ...
There are almost a 1000 different species of dung beetles in Southern Africa. They are also the only insect where pheromones are produced by the male and not the female..

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dung beetles

Unread postby Jay » Fri Sep 09, 2005 8:10 pm

Question: I bought a dung beetle, encased in resin, at the Lower Sabie shop (in sept.) for my nephew, such a beautiful beetle,.... but if there are fewer around....you don't think it's 'cos they're harvesting them for us crazy tourists....do you?????? I just assumed they picked up dead one's, is that naive?

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Re: dung beetles

Unread postby Loams » Fri Sep 09, 2005 8:59 pm

Hi Jay

I doubt it was a real one in the resin. One of my clients is a huge resin supplier, and you will be amazed what they can cast with resin.
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