Trivia question for Nov-23-2011

Posted on Nov 24, 2011 in Trivia

Olivia can’t say the name of these bugs without laughing so I challenged her to feature them in her trivia… lets see how she does.  These are big glossy beetles that hang around grazing animals.  They are very unusual among invertebrates, they’re attentive parents, providing food and shelter for young.

Some species of this insect ‘drone’ quite loudly as they fly, like mechanical toys.  These guys provide a waste disposal service.  By collecting and feeding on their favorite food, these guys recycle material that would otherwise quickly swamp the landscape.  These guys reach sexual maturity within 3-9 months and their breeding season is in the early summer in temperate climates: and all year long in tropical regions.

So here are Olivia’s questions:  Tell us what this bug is called and tell us where the female lays her eggs and how many she usually has at one time?  Also, tell us what the number one threat is for these smelly but vital insects?

Good Luck 😉


Congratulations goes out to Angela Williams for getting the insect identified correctly and to Natalie Borgardt (Natalie Lasky) for answering about where these guys lay their eggs. The big bug we featured is the Dung Beetle. Dung beetles are beetles that feed partly or exclusively on feces. This beetle can also be referred to as the scarab beetle. As most species of Scarabaeinae feed exclusively on feces, that subfamily is often dubbed true dung beetles. There are dung-feeding beetles which belong to other families, such as the Geotrupidae (the earth-boring dung beetle). The Scarabaeinae alone comprises more than 5,000 species.

Usually it is the male that rolls the ball, with the female hitch-hiking or simply following behind. In some cases the male and the female roll together. When a spot with soft soil is found, they stop and bury the dung ball. They will then mate underground. After the mating, both or one of them will prepare the brooding ball. When the ball is finished, the female lays between 5 and 10 eggs, each one in it’s own dung-ball which forms of mass provisioning home.  Some species do not leave after this stage, but remain to safeguard their offspring. The dung beetle goes through a complete metamorphosis. The larvae live in brood balls made with dung prepared by their parents. During the larval stage, the beetle feeds on the dung surrounding it.

The number one threat to these insects is from man and his attempt to mass-produce domestic cattle and sheep since these animals are given medication to kill parasites and the chemicals pass through their guts and contaminate their dung.  The effects on dung beetles can be catastrophic in some areas.

Did You Know? “Dung beetles can roll up to 50 times their weight.  Male beetles can pull 1,141 times their own body weight: the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people. In 2003, researchers found one species of dung beetle in Africa navigates by using polarization patterns in moonlight. The discovery is the first proof any animal can use polarized moonlight for orientation.  Here is more on these very useful insects: Dung Beetle

Thanks for playing along 😉