Fascinating Facts: Dung Beetles

If you’ve been on safari in Africa, chances are you would have come across these large, robust beetles rolling balls of dung often three times their own size. Here are a few more fascinating facts you may not have known about the dung beetle.

  1. Dung beetles are found on all continents except for Antarctica.
  2. It is estimated that there are about 7000 species of dung beetles in the world.
  3. Dung beetles can roll up to 50 times their weight making them the strongest insect in the world.
  1. Dung beetles can bury 1 metric ton of dung per year and are ecologically very important as they remove waste and destroy parasites and pests, returning nutrients to the soil.
  2. After collecting their dung, dung beetles will always roll their dung in a straight line, no matter what the obstacle.
  3. Dung beetles are excellent navigators and can detect dung within seconds, colonise it in minutes and completely remove it one day.
  4. There are four different groups of dung beetle; the ‘dwellers’ that remain inside the pile of dung, the ‘tunnellers’ that bury dung directly beneath the pile of dung and the ‘rollers’ that roll balls and take the dung away to be eaten or buried elsewhere.
  1. The dung is generally rolled by the male dung beetle with the female either catching a ride or following behind
  2. Dung is collected for different purposes; as a ‘food ball’, a ‘nuptial ball’ and a ‘brood ball’.
  1. Once a dung beetle has found a soft piece of ground, they will generally bury their ball, then mate and the female will lay eggs in the dung ball.

Want to learn more about Africa wildlife? Check out Fascinating Facts: Pangolins.