On 14 April 2006 I ask the question " what is the lifespan of a dung beetle and what happen to all the dung beetles in The Kruger national Park" on the Birds web page.
I have also noticed that the question was asked way-back in Jan 2005. I have done some research on the Dung Beetles and thought that i will shear some information with you.
According to www.dungbeetles.com
Dung beetles are strong flyer's and fly several kilometres in one flight. Day light hours (day fliers) and dusk to dawn. (night fliers) The fly upwind along an odour plume to the fresh dung.
Most species mould dung into individual balls in which one egg is laid. The larvae that hatched feed on the dung. When larval growth is completed the larval pupates and a new adult emerges. The time between egg laying and adult emerge can vary from one month to a year or more depending on the species. The life span of the adults is 2-6 months depending on the species. They are most active during the rain season.
According to the St. Lucia library information (www.stluciainfo.co.za
) 140 species of dung beetles have already been identified in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park. They also states that larger species can live through three seasons (2.5 years) and will only lay 50 to 80 eggs during their life span, while smaller species produce 80 to 200 eggs during their three to four-month lifetime.
Males use extra-large balls to attract mates. Thus dung piles are often the site of wrestling matches between competing beetles. Being able to navigate in a straight line is an important skill for the beetles because it helps them to escape the madness as quickly as possible.
Males of certain species with horns use the appendage for fighting and for grabbing female mates. Males fight underground and during these fights, the males hook their horns and try to push each other out of the desired females tunnel.
Researchers established that they aligns path by detecting polarity patterns in sunlight and rely on those patterns for finding their way. They have also turned up evidence that the insect aligns its path by detecting the polarisation of moonlight.
You will see many signs in the Addo Elephant National Park asking people to take care not to run over dung beetles as they are vital to the fragile ecology. Maybe similar signs should be erected at the Kruger National Park.
The dung beetles disperse dung and this activity serves to:
- Increase soil fertility
- By burying dung into soil, containing important nutrients
- By burying dung and thus nutrients into plant root zone.
- Increase soil aeration
- Increase water infiltration into the soil
- Reduce pasture fouling
- Reduce water contamination and algal blooms
- Reduce bush and buffalo fly numbers
- Reduce parasite loads
So next time we see dung in the road, do not not drive over it, as dung beetles have to risk there lives to collect the dung. Swerve out and spare the precious life of the dung beetle. I have seen people driving over camelions because the look in the veld searching for the big five. There is so much more to see in nature.
We as humans can learn from the dung beetles. We should not be so quick to throw things away bur rather reuse or recycle, like the dung beetle.
Seeing that today is Mothers day. One last thought for all our mothers. A mom is an example of Gods love in action. She looks with her heart & feels with her eyes. Her kid's can deposit their pain & sorrows in her - like a bank. She is the cement that keeps her family together; her love last for ever.