20+ Interesting Facts About Dung Beetles

  1. Dung beetles are those beetles that feed on the dung (feces) of omnivore and herbivore animals. They prefer dung from omnivores as it provides more nutritional value and is easier to find.
  2. A species of dung beetle, male Onthophagus taurus, can pull 1,141 times its body weight. It makes it the strongest animal in the world. (Source)
  3. Dung beetles can decompose 90% of nitrogen from cattle dung back into the soil. It makes the soil fertile without the use of artificial fertilizers. (Source)
  4. These beetles can markedly reduce the emission of methane (major greenhouse gas) from cattle farming. They provide this benefit in both temperate and tropical agricultural grasslands. (Source)
  5. Dung beetles are present in all continents except Antarctica. They live in many habitats, including forests, farmlands, grasslands, savannas, and deserts. These insects usually avoid severely cold and dry climates.
  6. Dung beetles are the only nocturnal animals on earth that can use polarization patterns in the moonlight for navigation. (Source)
  7. Dung beetles are the first known animals in the world that can navigate by using the stars of the Milky Way Galaxy. (Source
    An image of a dung beetle in a chamber
    A species of dung beetle can navigate through the Milky Way

  8. Many dung beetles don’t use dung as the only source of food. They can also feed on mushrooms along with decaying leaves and fruits.
  9. Deltochilum valgum, a species of dung beetles in Central America, is unique among dung beetles. This nocturnal species has transformed from scavenger to carnivore and preys upon millipedes. (Source)
  10. They provide several benefits to humans, soil, and the environment. These include transporting nutrients to the subsoil, improving water infiltration, and reducing flies and dung-borne parasites. (Source)
  11. There are more than 500 native species of beetles in Australia. However, European settlers introduced dung beetles from Hawaii, southern Europe, and Africa in the 1960s because native species refused to eat the dung of introduced livestock. Their introduction in Australia has increased the fertility of cattle pastures and assisted in the biological control of the bush fly.
  12. Dung beetles use dung balls to stay cool during hot weather. They climb moist dung balls in summer to keep their feet cool and avoid the hot sand. (Source)
  13. A species of dung beetle was sacred among ancient Egyptians. They were used as scarabs (artifacts) in the bandages of mummies. (Source)
  14. There are thousands of species of dung beetles. They are divided into several families and subfamilies of the superfamily Scarabaeoidea beetles. Almost all members of the Scarabaeinae (true dung beetles) subfamily are dung beetles. Members of dung beetles are also present in the family Geotrupidae (earth-boring dung beetles) and subfamily Aphodiinae (small dung beetles). 
  15. There are three types of dung beetles: rollers, tunnellers, and dwellers. Rollers roll the dung ball to their home (inside a soft spot) and use it as food and to lay eggs. Tunnellers bury the dung at the place where they find it. Dwellers live inside the dung. 
  16. According to research, dung beetles can save $380 million annually in the USA by improving yield and minimizing pesticide and fertilizer usage. This study does not cover the health and environmental benefits of dung beetles. (Source)
  17. plant in Borneo releases dung-like odor to attract dung beetles for its pollination. This technique by the plant is called “deceit pollination." (Source)
  18. Dung beetles use their excellent sense of smell to locate dung. After finding the dung, the beetle rolls it to its destination in a straight line and crosses all obstacles along the way.
  19. The dung beetle has to protect its food from other beetles. Dung beetles try to steal dung from other beetles whenever they get a chance.
  20. Several Asian countries use dung beetles as food and medicine. The dried dung beetle is an ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine, while these insects are considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia.
  21. The preference of food changes in dung beetles as they age. Adult beetles eat a moist part of the dung, while larvae like to eat the solid part of the dung.

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