African Dung Beetle

There are a great many animals that eat tons of grass a day on the savanna in Africa. These folks make a lot of droppings, or to term it correctly, Dung.

Insects such as the scarab beetle, or dung beetle are an important part of the ecosystem be cause they break it up and move it away.

An African Dung beetle, rolling his gathering
An African Dung beetle, rolling his gathering

Dung beetles find what they are searching for by the smell and when its found they either begin to eat it immediately or roll it into balls and start to roll it away. They stand up on their front feet and push the ball with their hind feet, and very often the balls they are pushing are more then twice their height and many times their weight.

Then when they find soft ground, they bury the ball to keep it moist and before they close the hole, the female will lay one egg on top of the ball. When the egg hatches the larvae will stay in side the dung ball and eat it from the inside out, before emerging as a new, hungry adult.

These beetles were always considered sacred to the ancient peoples of Egypt and Africa, and today, although many don’t consider them sacred anymore they are learning to appreciate the service that they beetles do and protect them.

The Dung Beetle taking a rest on a leaf
The Dung Beetle taking a rest on a leaf

If these beetles did not exist, the dung would harden and cover the ground. Grass and other plants would not be able to grow. By breaking up the dung and burying it, the scarab beetles also help to fertilize the ground.

“he Ancient Egyptians believed the scarab beetles to be sacred. They believed that scarab beetles rolled the sun across the sky the same way they would a ball of dung. They also thought that the beetles were symbols of rebirth, because of they way the parent beetle would bury itself underground and the newly hatched adults would emerge. The Ancient Egyptians carved stones into the shape of scarab beetles as good luck charms.”

The majority of dung beetles feed on dung, both in their adult and larval phase. However, many dung beetles feed on a variety of things, including mushrooms, decomposing leaves and other rotting matter. Adult dung beetles have mouth parts which are specially adapted to feed on liquefied material and can break down a dung pad very efficiently by burying the dung underground to use when breeding

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