Fascinating Dung Beetles

Large Florida Dung Beetle in Hand (yes I will pick up just about anything)

Large Florida Dung Beetle in Hand (yes I will pick up just about anything)

Baby Dung Beetle on White Sandy Trail (combed antennae are extremely sensitive to smell)

Baby Dung Beetle on White Sandy Trail (combed antennae are extremely sensitive to smell)

Dung Beetle Doing Headstand Pushing Mushroom Cap Backwards

Dung Beetle Doing Headstand Pushing Mushroom Cap Backwards

Burrowing Owl Family

Burrowing Owl Family

Did you know that Florida has dung beetles? We saw this Canthon species of dung beetle on a sandy trail at the Sebastian Buffer Preserve. “Tumblebugs” are nature’s ultimate recyclers, and they make the world a better place. They push and roll vegetable matter or round balls of dung into a hole they dig underground (thus aerating and fertilizing the soil). They reduce fly populations and disease by burying waste. Without them cattle ranchers would be in a heap of trouble.

Dung beetles push their food backwards with their hind legs, which makes them look like they are doing headstands. They can easily push 50 times their weight, and are one of the few insects that care for their young. They’ve been around since the age of dinosaurs, and can orient themselves using the Milky Way.

Florida burrowing owls often place dung or pieces of rotting fruit around their burrows (which is tool use). It is believed they do this because it attracts dung beetles – their favorite snack! Egyptians considered scarabs (a kind of dung beetle) to be sacred. They believed a scarab pushed the round ball of the sun across the sky.

About Pam
Richard and Pam lived in the San Francisco Bay Area 14 years (1987-1999 and 2008-2011). They lived in Florida 13 years previously, until returning in July 2011 to present. They hope their photography will encourage you to get out and discover nature's beauty in your own backyard, parks, and wild places. Click on any pictures on this blog to see them full size with additional details.

6 Responses to Fascinating Dung Beetles

  1. mrsbearfoot says:

    Very interesting facts about the Dung Beetles! Beautiful image of the Burrowing Owls.

    Lindy

  2. Pam says:

    They really are amazing. Imagine – the only insect to navigate by the stars, and the strongest too. I read that the cattle industry in Australia actually had to import dung beetles, because the function they serve is so vitally important. And dung beetles don’t bite or sting either – they just have very prickly feet. 🙂

  3. elisa ruland says:

    Ha, fun dung beetle facts! I don’t think I’ve seen them in Georgia, but if possible, send some our way. I do not like flies!

    • Pam says:

      You probably have the same beetles or something very similar – they are all over the southeast. Yes, we need them to do their job – quite necessary!

  4. reocochran says:

    I like how you teach us things, valuable information about critters, like this bug: the dung beetle. I now know not to kill them since they have a good purpose to their being here! I tend to make my grandkids (I call them grandies) appreciate nature, since we are part of a connected system of living together. Smiles, Robin

    • Pam says:

      That is so wonderful! And kids would especially like how the dung beetles practically stand on their heads pushing balls behind them. I really didn’t know if anyone else would appreciate them or not, but I thought they were so cool and unnoticed that I wanted to pass it along. Smiles to you for being so good to your grandies!

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