And You Think Your Job Stinks!
At the request of one of my readers I am going to complete a post on an important insect. As well, this post will make up for the one I missed earlier this week. This may not be the nicest and most politically correct post, actually this might just be my crappiest fact yet. I was asked to dedicate Wild Fact #995 to the Dung Beetle! I am sure everyone knows that dung beetles are capable of rolling manure into large balls and using this for food. But did you know that there are three main categories of dung beetles? Yes, we are aware of the more famous “Rollers” which roll the dung into their brood chambers as a food source for their young; however, there are also the “Tunnellers” which simply bury the dung wherever they find it. Finally, there are the “Dwellers” which don’t roll or tunnel, but just enjoy living life to the fullest in animal manure. Eventually, there may be a fourth group of dung beetles but the research is still preliminary. In January 2009, a paper was published which has identified a dung beetle that has given up the smelly day job of feeding off of manure. Instead this type of dung beetle has actually become predatory and now feeds off of millipedes. I am sure there will still be some discussion has to the accuracy of this paper and if you are interested you can find out more here: http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55346/.
Although, this predatory dung beetle is interesting I wanted to give you a bit more information on the “Rollers”. This type of dung beetle uses its legs and mouth parts to create their giant ball of manure. The dung beetle can create a ball that is up to 50 times its weight (that is equivalent to a 200 lb person rolling a 10 000 lb ball). The male and female dung beetle will roll the ball in a straight line despite any obstacles that may be in their way (so make sure you get out of the way or else you may end up covered in manure). Along their journey they have to be aware of pirates as other dung beetles in the area may try to steal their ball of dung. If they manage to get by the “dung muggers” then they will find a soft spot in the ground and bury their prized possession. Once the dung ball is secure in the brooding chamber the two beetles will celebrate their victory by mating. Although, the fun doesn’t last for long as the two beetles now have to prepare their brooding ball so the female can lay her eggs. This will provide a valuable source of nutrients to the larvae of the dung beetle. The larvae will grow up feeding off of this dung ball until they become adults and start the process on their own. Some adult dung beetles will stay with their brooding ball to protect their young as they grow, while others move on.
I know this beetle has been the butt of many jokes over the years but their service to humankind is valuable. Without these dung beetles the earth would be overflowing with manure so next time you are on a farm, make sure you thank these little recyclers for helping us out.
If you are interested in watching some interesting crap then check out this YouTube video on the dung beetle:
Did you find this post interesting? Any requests for future Wild Facts? Let me know.