Here at NG KiDS, we love the wonderful world of insects – and we know our readers do, too! So join us we get the lowdown on one of our planet’s coolest creepy crawlies with these awesome dung beetle facts!

Dung beetle facts

Fast dung beetle facts

Phylum: Arthropoda
Family name: Scarabaeidae
Classification: Insect
IUCN status: Least concern
Lifespan (in wild): 3 years
Body length: 0.5cm-3cm
Diet: Dung
Habitat: Grassland and forest.
Range:
Dung beetle facts

Dung beetles have dark, round bodies, six legs and long flying wings folded under hard, protective covers. Some male dung beetles have strong horns on their heads, too. Found worldwide on every continent except Antartica, these brilliant bugs live in habitats ranging from hot, dry deserts to lush forests. And any ideas what these insects like to eat? Yup, you guessed it…dung or animal poop, as you might call it.

Dung beetle facts

There are three main types of dung beetle – rollers, tunnellers and dwellers – each named for the way the way the beetles use the poop they find. Rollers shape dung into balls and roll them away from the pile. They then burry the ball to either munch on later or to use as a place to lay their eggs. Tunnellers dive into the dung pile, usually working in a ‘male-female’ pair, and dig a tunnel beneath it. The female beetle then stays in the tunnel sorting out the dung brought down by the male. Dwellers, on the other hand, simply live inside the pooey pile. Female dwellers lay their eggs there, and when the larvae (or young) hatch they happily munch away on the food that surrounds them. Nom nom nom!

So, why would a insect want to eat poo? It’s an interesting question, eh? Well, when an animal (such as an elephant, cow or rhino) munches on some tasty grub, there are always parts of the food that pass through its body undigested, and end up in its dung. Its these nutritious bits of undigested food that dung beetles tuck into. Larvae eat the solid poop, while the adult beetles generally suck up the nutritious moisture found inside the dung.

Dung beetle facts

These cool critters may be small, but boy are they are they mighty! In fact, in relation to its size the dung beetle is not only the world’s strongest insect – it’s the world’s strongest animal! When moving balls of dung, a roller can pull a whopping 1,141 times its own bodyweight – that’s the same as a human dragging six full double-decker busses along a road! Male dung beetles also use their colossal strength to fight, locking horns to push and pull rivals out of the way when they’re grappling for a female’s attention. Wow!

Credits

 – Dung beetle on a dung ball: Beverly Joubert. Motion shot of dung beetle rolling a dung ball: Chris Johns. Dung beetle with dung ball by leaves: Tim Laman.
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