Dung Beetle: All You Need to Know for a Fascinating Insight

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Dung beetles are fascinating insects that play a crucial role in our ecosystem by removing and recycling animal feces. These underrated creatures can be found in various habitats, but they tend to avoid extremely cold or dry weather conditions source. With over 6,000 species worldwide, dung beetles exhibit unique behaviors and provide significant ecological benefits source.

These small yet powerful insects rely on feces for both their food and reproduction. The life cycle of a dung beetle involves laying eggs in the dung, which serves as a food source for larvae as they develop and eventually pupate source. Dung beetles come in a variety of shapes and sizes but are most commonly recognized as the beetles rolling dung balls, transferring them to their underground burrows.

Some outstanding benefits of dung beetles include:

  • Improving nutrient recycling and soil quality by burying dung and creating tunnels
  • Promoting soil aeration, which helps plant growth
  • Reducing harmful parasites and pathogens in the environment by consuming feces
  • Contributing to the control of pest populations, such as flies and gastrointestinal parasites.

Given their essential ecological functions, it is crucial to recognize and appreciate the role these tiny insects play in maintaining the delicate balance of our natural world.

What Are Dung Beetles

Classification and Diversity

Dung beetles are a group of insects under the family Scarabaeidae within the order Coleoptera, commonly known as scarab beetles. They are a large and diverse group with over 6,000 species found worldwide1.

Physical Characteristics

Dung beetles are typically oval, stout, and possess clubbed antennae with feathery segments2. They exhibit variations in size and color, but most species share these key features:

  • Body length ranging from 1/2 to 1 inch3
  • A metallic appearance with hues like blue-green, copper, or golden bronze3

Behavior and Roles

These remarkable insects have specific behaviors that revolve around the removal of animal feces for food and reproduction4. Here are some of their key roles:

  • Tunnelers: Collect dung from the surface and carry it underground to feed their young5
  • Rollers: Shape dung into balls and roll them away from the dung pile to bury and consume later2

Dung beetles are considered beneficial to the environment due to their ecological and economic advantages4:

  • Aiding in waste decomposition
  • Improving soil structure and nutrient cycling
Feature Tunneler Dung Beetles Roller Dung Beetles
Food Storage Underground burrows Rolled dung balls
Predominant Behavior Burrowing Rolling

Types of Dung Beetles


Rollers are a type of dung beetle known for their unique behavior of rolling dung into balls. They primarily feed on animal feces and use the dung balls as both food and breeding ground. Examples of rollers include the well-known Scarabaeus sacer and the Gymnopleurus mopsus. Some key features of rollers are:

  • Roll dung into balls: Rollers shape the dung into balls that are easier to handle and transport.
  • Serve multiple purposes: The dung balls provide both food and a breeding ground for offspring.


Dwellers, also known as endocoprids, are dung beetles that live within or just below fresh dung piles. They feed and lay eggs within the dung, providing a safe environment for their young to develop. Examples of dwellers include Aphodius and Euoniticellus species. These beetles have the following characteristics:

  • Live within dung piles: Dwellers stay directly in their food source for easy access and protection.
  • Lay eggs in dung: This provides a safe environment for their offspring to hatch and develop.


Tunnelers, or paracoprids, are dung beetles that dig tunnels underneath dung piles. They move dung into the tunnels and lay their eggs there, providing a protected space for their larva to grow. Examples of tunnelers include Onthophagus and Copris species. Some unique features of tunnelers are:

  • Dig tunnels below dung: This creates a more secure and protected environment for the beetles and their offspring.
  • Transport dung underground: Tunnelers move dung into the tunnels to use as a food source and breeding ground.

Comparison Table

Type Food Source Dwelling Location Example Species
Rollers Animal feces (dung) On the ground Scarabaeus sacer
Dwellers Animal feces (dung) Inside dung piles Aphodius species
Tunnelers Animal feces (dung) Below dung piles Onthophagus species—

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Brood Ball Formation

In dung beetles, the female forms a brood ball from dung to lay her eggs. She carefully shapes the ball, which often contains a single egg. Here are some key characteristics of brood ball formation:

  • Made of dung
  • Contains a single egg
  • Shaped by the female dung beetle

Larval Development

After the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the dung within the brood ball. This stage is crucial for their growth. Larvae are also referred to as grubs during this stage. Some key features of larval development include:

  • Feeding on dung within the brood ball
  • Transformation from larvae to grubs
  • Growth and development within the ball

Mating and Parental Care

Dung beetles mate in a fascinating way. When a male locates a female, he courts her using specific techniques, such as stroking his antennae and front legs quickly (source). Parental care in dung beetles varies among species. For example, some species don’t show any parental care, while others care for their offspring in different ways.

Pros and Cons of Parental Care in Dung Beetles

Pros Cons
Increased offspring survival Energy expenditure
Protection from predators Reduced mating opportunities

The life cycle and reproduction of dung beetles involve the formation of brood balls, larval development within these balls, and a unique mating process. Parental care differs across species, with both pros and cons to the level of care provided.

Feeding and Nutrition

Dung as a Food Source

Dung beetles primarily feed on the feces of herbivores and omnivores. Their strong sense of smell helps them locate fresh dung quickly. They form dung balls, which are essential for their diet and reproduction. For instance, the Aphodius badipes (‘big black beetle’)1 and Aphodius fimetarius (‘red backs’)2 are dung beetle species that utilize animal feces this way.

Other Sources of Nutrition

In addition to dung, some dung beetles also consume fungi3, decaying leaves, and plant matter. This makes them partially omnivorous. Here’s a brief comparison of their food sources:

Food Source Examples Benefits
Dung (Feces) Herbivore and omnivore feces Rich in nutrients
Fungi Mushrooms, molds Additional nutrients
Decaying Plant Matter Leaves, fruits Supplement to diet
  • Nutrition in Adults: Adult dung beetles gain most of their nutrition from poop.
  • Herbivores and Omnivores’ feces: Dung beetles prefer feces from herbivores and omnivores, as they are richer in nutrients.

Amazing Abilities

Strength and Carrying Capacity

Dung beetles possess incredible strength, able to pull 1,141 times their body weight1. This feat is akin to a human pulling six fully loaded double-decker buses1. These beetles can carry or roll balls of dung up to 10 times their weight2. They can even bury dung 250 times heavier than their own body mass in just a single night2.

Navigation Skills

Surprisingly, dung beetles have impressive navigation skills using celestial signals2. Diurnal species, for example, rely on the sun to maintain a straight course while rolling their dung balls2. These navigational abilities enable them to travel long distances, sometimes flying up to 30 miles in search of dung2.

Fighting and Defense Mechanisms

Dung beetles exhibit various fighting and defense mechanisms depending on their species. One prominent feature is their horns, which are often used in battles with other beetles for territory and access to resources3. Additionally, their strong sense of smell4 helps them locate and protect their food source. Some species also have the ability to fly2, which can be advantageous in escaping predators or reaching new feeding grounds quickly.

Comparison of Different Abilities:

Abilities Examples
Strength Pulling 1,141 times their body weight1
Carrying Capacity Rolling balls of dung up to 10 times their weight2
Navigation Using celestial signals to travel in straight lines2, flying up to 30 miles2
Defense Mechanisms Fighting with horns3, strong sense of smell4, flying2

Habitats and Adaptations


Dung beetles mainly live and work in various habitats, including forests. They have unique adaptations to feed on animal feces found in these areas. For instance, forest beetles often feed on fruits and invertebrates besides dung, providing diversification in their diet.


In desert habitats, dung beetles adapt to the challenging environment by being active at night, avoiding the extreme heat. They are known to utilize dung from various animals, as well as decaying vegetation and carrion when necessary.

Agricultural Lands

Dung beetles can be found living in agricultural lands, where they play an essential role in disposing of animal waste. They benefit these ecosystems by:

  • Recycling nutrients back into the soil
  • Improving soil structure and aeration
  • Reducing pests such as flies and parasites

Comparison Table

Habitat Adaptations Diet
Forest Feed on fruits and invertebrates in addition to dung Fruits, invertebrates, dung
Desert Nocturnal activity to avoid extreme heat Decaying vegetation, carrion
Agricultural Efficient waste disposal and recycling Dung

These different habitats influence how dung beetles adapt their behaviors and diets, showcasing their versatility and ecological importance.

Ecological Importance

Impact on Soil and Plant Growth

Dung beetles play a significant role in improving soil quality. They help in:

  • Nutrient cycling: By breaking down dung, they release essential nutrients back into the soil, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

  • Soil aeration: Their tunneling activities allow for better water penetration and air circulation, promoting healthy plant growth.

Some American dung beetle species can even tame livestock waste, making it less harmful for the environment.

Seed Dispersal and Fertilization

Dung beetles contribute to seed dispersal, as they bury and move seeds found within dung. This leads to increased plant diversity and improved seedling emergence. Additionally, the action of burying dung with seeds provides fertilization, promoting a healthy plant growth in the surrounding areas.

Pest Control

Some dung beetle species prey upon harmful pests and act as a natural control agent for flies, parasites, and pathogens. By reducing these pest populations, dung beetles protect livestock and mitigate the spread of diseases that could potentially harm both animals and humans.

Feature Impact on Environment
Nutrient cycling Enriches soil
Soil aeration Promotes plant growth
Seed dispersal Increases plant diversity
Fertilization Enhances plant growth
Pest control Reduces disease spread

Dung Beetles in Culture and Symbolism

Ancient Egyptian Symbolism

Dung beetles, specifically the scarab beetle, held great significance in Ancient Egyptian culture. They were symbols of renewal and rebirth. Egyptians observed that dung beetles rolled dung into balls, and from these balls, new beetles emerged. They related this process to the sun god Ra, who rolled the sun across the sky.

Modern Representations

Dung beetles still hold cultural value today. A folktale from Sudan tells the story of a dung beetle who fell in love with the moon. The moon agreed to marry the beetle if it cleared all the dung from the earth.


  • Dung beetles are associated with positive concepts like renewal, rebirth, and light
  • Stories about the beetles can be both educational and entertaining


  • Some people might not appreciate the symbolism due to the beetles’ association with dung
Ancient Egyptian Symbolism Modern Representations
Scarab beetle Folktales from Sudan
Symbols of renewal/rebirth Associated with the moon
Related to sun god Ra Love story with the moon


  1. Dung Beetles: The Organic/Alternative Farmer’s Hidden Helper 2 3 4 5

  2. Dung Beetles (Tumblebugs) | Missouri Department of Conservation 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

  3. Dung Beetle – Texas A&M University 2 3 4 5

  4. Dung Beetle – Texas A&M University 2 3 4

  5. Dung Beetles: The Organic/Alternative Farmer’s Hidden Helper

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Scarab Beetle from Turkey


Subject: Beetle name?
Location: Turkey
September 8, 2015 4:17 am
Appreciate if you could identify this bug.
I took the attached photos.
Thanks a lot !
Signature: not important

Scarab Beetle
Scarab Beetle

Dear not important,
This is a Scarab Beetle, further subclassified as a June Beetle.  We previously identified an individual from Turkey as
Polyphylla fullo.

Scarab Beetle
Scarab Beetle

Letter 2 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Subject: Large Grub-like Creature
Location: Germantown, Maryland
June 2, 2012 11:13 pm
I found this bug back in September 2010 in Maryland. He was very interesting looking. It did not like me very much, especially when I picked it up. He was large, almost 2 inches long. Not squishy like a maggot. Thanks so much.
Signature: Curious and Curiouser

Scarab Beetle Grub

Dear Curious and Curiouser,
This insect larva is more than just “grub-like”.  It really is a Grub, the acceptable name for the larva of a Scarab Beetle, though other beetle larvae and insect larvae are also called Grubs.  You did not indicate exactly where it was found.  Many large Scarab Beetle Grubs are found in rotting wood since that is their food source.  Other Scarab Grubs, notably those of June Beetles, are frequently found while digging because they feed on roots.  Other Scarab Grubs are commonly found in compost piles.  We will be postdating your identification request to go live later in the week since we will be away from the office for a short time and we like having new posts on our site on a daily basis.

Letter 3 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Subject: Creature in my garden
Location: Hawthorne, CA
January 24, 2013 12:33 am
Found this creature in my garden. What is it?! Guessing it is some kind of moth larvae but I figured you were the best resource to find out for sure! Any info is greatly appreciated.
Signature: Bef so Def

Scarab Beetle Grub

Dear Bef do Def,
This is the grub of a Scarab Beetle, most likely that of a May Beetle, commonly called a June Bug.

Letter 4 – Scarab Beetle Grub from United Arab Emirates


Subject: caterpillar
Location: Dubai, UAE
March 25, 2015 2:39 am
discovered this whilst at a park in the UAE….my nephews are very keen on knowing what kind of caterpillar this is….and I am clueless…..would love some information on it…
Signature: Bevill JB

Scarab Beetle Grub
Scarab Beetle Grub

Dear Bevill JB,
This is not a caterpillar.  It is the Grub or immature stage of a Scarab Beetle.

Dear Daniel…
That is so fascinating.
Thank you very much for responding. This is a  simply wonderful and most educative site I have seen in ages.
Best regards,

Letter 5 – Scarab Beetle from Australia: Chlorobapta frontalis


Subject: chlorobapta frontalis
Location: Forbes, NSW
January 20, 2015 8:10 pm
Hi guys,
I found this little guy sneaking into my house, did a google search and found your page – 2011/03/02/green-fiddler-beetle-from-australia/
I live in Forbes NSW and have just released it back into the garden. I just wanted to send you the photos i took.
Signature: Bri

Scarab Beetle:  Chlorobapta frontalis
Scarab Beetle: Chlorobapta frontalis

Dear Bri,
When we originally created that posting, we misidentified this Fruit Chafer,
Chlorobapta frontalis, as a Green Fiddler Beetle, but we were corrected by Karl.  Karl always provides links with his comments, and we can’t help but to wonder if the links have been broken in the intervening years.  There is a photo on iNaturalist and a link from there to this lovely FlickR image.  Project Noah has the correct scientific name, but interestingly calls it the common name Fiddler Beetle, which is generally used to describe Eupoecila australasiae.

Scarab Beetle:  Chlorobapta frontalis
Scarab Beetle: Chlorobapta frontalis

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your reply.
Please feel free to use the photos on your site if you wish, though the quality isn’t great because i used my phone camera and didn’t want to harm the little guy by trying to get better shots!

Hi again Bri,
We really like your images, and we posted all three, though we did increase the contrast and employ conservative digital sharpening.

Fruit Chafer
Fruit Chafer

Letter 6 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Subject:  What is this??
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern california
Date: 04/29/2019
Time: 09:01 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I keep finding these in my soil when I am planting. They are usually a couple inches under the soil. Lived here 23 yrs and never saw them. This spring I’ve already found about 40. Should I be worried??
How you want your letter signed:  Worried gardener

Scarab Beetle Grub

Dear Worried gardener,
Though we cannot provide you with a definitive species, this is definitely the grub of a Scarab Beetle.  Many species of June Beetles have grubs that feed on the roots of grasses. 

Letter 7 – Scarab Beetle from Ethiopia: Pachnoda stehelini


Green and yellow beetle in Ethiopia
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
October 27, 2010 12:28 pm
Hi Mr Bugman – I am writing to ask your assistance in identifying a green and yellow beetle. The first flew into my house a couple of weeks ago in a , and the second after I moved to the fifth floor of an apartment block at the top of a hill in the city of Addis Ababa. They have both since left my home.
I named the first one Marius, and the second Julius (Te-See-Zar is Amharic language word for beetle). I would like to know what they eat/drink and their sleeping patterns (hibernation etc…) so I can make a comfortable home for them if they return.
They are the only two of this kind of beetle I have ever seen, so it seems a strange co-incidence that they both came to my home, were not able to fly away, seeming sluggish in their efforts, and after a couple of days of rest, vanished without a trace.
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give me.
Signature: Billy Moon

Scarab Beetle: Pachnoda stehelini

Hi Billy,
Your beetle is one of the members of the large family Scarabaeidae, the Scarab Beetles.  It somewhat resembles the Green June Beetle or Figeater from North America, and we are guessing it is probably in the same subfamily, Cetoniinae, the Fruit and Flower Chafers.  We are guessing, that like many of its relatives, it will feed upon ripe fruit.  Next time try a banana or a peach.  Most Scarabs do not hibernate, but they will live for a few months as adults.  We believe your specimen looks very similar to
Pachnoda stehelini which we found on the Cetonidae Online Insect Museum website run by Benjamin Harink.  We then found some photos of living specimens on Goliathus.com.  There are also very nice images of it on Beetlespace.

Scarab Beetle: Pachnoda stehelini

Thank you very much for your reply. I have looked at the links you sent me. It is all very interesting. I will try a banana, or maybe some flower pollen next time.

Letter 8 – Scarab Beetle Larva


Caterpillar ?Cicada larvae
Location: Michigan
May 2, 2012 9:39 pm
I found this caterpillar in the garden on a sunny day in May in Michigan. It was very fast and before I got my camera it disapeared. When I located it, it had burrowed head first into the leaf litter on top of the soil. It had some bristles near the head. Looks like a cicada larva to me but the pictures I saw looked different.
Signature: Linda

Scarab Beetle Larva

Hi Linda,
This is the larva of a Scarab Beetle and it is commonly called a Grub.  Though we are uncertain of the exact species, we suspect it might be the larva of a Green June Beetle,
Cotinis nitida, which you can find pictured on BugGuide.

Thank you for the identification. It certainly does look like the one in BugGuide. I forgot to mention the size, it was large, at least 3 inches. My bug book shows the Green June Beetle larvae at 2 inches. I love your site and have it bookmarked. Thanks again, Linda

Letter 9 – Scarab from Kenya: Pachnoda species


Subject: scarab?
Location: nairobi, kenya
October 27, 2013 10:22 am
Dear Bugman
What do you reckon
a scarab?
Very bright orange, lovely marking in black white and brown on the legs and undercarriage
About an inch and a half long
Signature: jasmin

Scarab Beetle:  Pachnoda species
Scarab Beetle: Pachnoda species

Hi jasmin,
You are correct that this is a Scarab, and we believe we may have identified it as a member of the genus
Pachnoda.  We found a photo that looks very close on Cetonidae – The Online Insect Museum where it is identified as Pachnoda sinuata flaviventris.  We found another photo on FlickR and finally, Wikipedia has information on the entire genus.  We are postdating your submission to go live on Halloween, the final day in October when Americans dress in costume and carve pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns.  The colors associated with Halloween are orange and black, like your Scarab.  

Oh Perfect I’ll look out for that on Halloween
I thanks so much for the ID. I will look them all up with the kids.
It was a beauty!
Kind regards

Letter 10 – Scarab Beetle Grubs


Subject:  Strange bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Grand forks, North Dakota
Date: 07/23/2018
Time: 01:24 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just found a bunch of these. Not sure what they are.
How you want your letter signed:  Very respectfully

Scarab Beetle Grub

This is a Scarab Beetle Grub.  They are generally found in soil rich in humus, compost piles or in rotting wood.

Letter 11 – Scarab Beetles from Australia


what are they???

Scarab Beetles

what are they???
Location: temora nsw
March 2, 2011 5:37 am
i found the beatles in my font yard already dead. i have never see them before and would like to know what they are. its summer and was very hot that week around 40
Signature: melissa harris

NOT Green Fiddler Beetle, rather Chlorobapta frontalis

Dear Melissa,
We believe at least one of your beetles is a Green Fiddler Beetle,
Eupoecila australasiae, which is a highly variable species.  In some individuals, the markings are green and in others they are yellow.  There is also some variation in the degree of the markings.  Your individual does not appear to have any markings on the pronotum, the foremost part of the thorax, and this is a characteristic we have not found in other images posted online.  The Brisbane Insect Website has some nice images of a yellow marked individual.  Oz Animals has an image of a yellow marked individual with significantly different markings than your individual.  Climate Watch indicates that they have dark brown or black legs, and one of your beetles has distinctly yellow legs.  You never sent an image of the dorsal surface of the second beetle you found, so we are curious what it looks like.  We wonder perhaps if this is a similar but less well documented member of the same genus.  Our searching did turn up another species in the genus, Eupoecila inscripta, which is pictured on FlickR, but it is a very different beetle.  We will tag this posting as a Mystery since we are uncertain if both beetles represent the same species.  Perhaps one of our more knowledgeable readers will be able to assist.

Scarab Beetle

Correction courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and Melissa:
The beetles in the posted images closely resemble Chlorobapta frontalis (Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae). Melissa’s image does show a greenish margin around the front of the pronotum, although it is difficult to make out, but other markings on the rest of the dorsal surface are slightly different. The underside looks quite similar. The differences could be due variability in the species, or this may be a related species. There is one other Chlorobapta species in NSW, C. besti, but I was unable to find any images or descriptions. I can’t be certain about the species, but I believe that Chlorobapta is probably the correct genus. Regards. Karl

Letter 12 – Rainbow Scarab


Dung Beetle
This beetle hit my wife in the head while she was letting our dog in. I learned from your site that it is a dung beetle. I have lived in Southeastern Indiana all my life, and I have never seen one around here before. Are they common, or is this rare? Thanks,
Ed Scholle
Milan, IN

Hi Ed,
This is not an uncommon beetle, but perhaps the Rainbow Scarab is more common in isolated populations.

Letter 13 – Rainbow Scarab


Green Beetle Unknown?
Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 4:39 AM
Found near Eunice New Mexico, close to the west border of Texas.
Eunice, New Mexico

Rainbow Scarab
Rainbow Scarab

Hi Kelvin,
What a positively gorgeous image of a positively gorgeous Rainbow Scarab, a Dung Beetle. Most of the images of Rainbow Scarabs we receive are of Phanaeus vindex, but your image is of Phanaeus difformis which has a much more limited range of Texas and surrounding states. BugGuide has an excellent image explaining how to differentiate the two species.

Letter 14 – Rainbow Scarab


Green horned beetle
Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 2:39 PM
We found this cute guy on our deck. He sat there and let me photograph him for awhile. I have been doing bug photography for 3 years and cannot get enough. However I cannot identify this one
Caroline Farrell
Easley, SC

Rainbow Scarab
Rainbow Scarab

Hi Caroline,
This is a male Rainbow Scarab, Phanaeus vindex, a species of Dung Beetle. Only the male has the impressive horn.

Letter 15 – Rainbow Scarab


Found this while cleaning my pond
August 9, 2009
Yesterday (Aug 8) I was cleaning my water lily pond and found this beetle.. The bug is about 3/4 of an inch to an inch long
Frank Scanlan
Coral Springs, FL 33065

Rainbow Scarab
Rainbow Scarab

Hi Frank,
This is a female Rainbow Scarab, Phanaeus vindex, a species of Dung Beetle.  The male has a single curved horn.

Letter 16 – Rainbow Scarab


Found this bettle today
April 23, 2010
Found this bettle today
• Your letter to the bugman    I found this beetle in my yard today. I thought it was a Japanese Beetle until I saw the horn, and I didn’t think that they had horns,,,,
Rebecca Ryan
Eastern NC

Rainbow Scarab

Hi Rebecca,
Your pretty little beetle is a Rainbow Scarab, one of the Dung Beetles.  You photo reminds us of one we posted many years back.

Letter 17 – Rainbow Scarab, a Dung Beetle with a glitzy exoskeleton


Shiny Single Horned Beetle
Location: Dupui Preserve just east of Lake Okeechobee Florida
December 4, 2010 9:48 am
Dear Bug Dudes & Dudettes,
This beetle flew into my car in the Dupui Preserve Loxahatchee / West Palm, Florida. November 2010. It’s shell is thick, very hard, and so reflective that it was difficult to photograph.
About 3/4 of an inch long but still strong enough to escape my closed hand by pushing up on my finger with it’s head, powered by the two front legs. A very impressive little bug.
I would like to know what they feed on so I can observe it a while. Thanks
Signature: Nature Dad

Rainbow Scarab

Dear Nature Dad,
We positively love that you gave us such nice differing views of your Rainbow Scarab.  Your beetle is a male as evidenced by his horn.  We hope you won’t think less of this beauty when you learn he is a Dung Beetle.  Dung Beetles mate and work in pairs to provide for the brood.  The roll excretia into a ball and roll it to the pre-dug burrow where they bury the ball of dung and lay an egg.  The pair divide the labor in the raising of the brood, a rarity in the insect world.  Daniel has written extensively on the family structure of mated Dung Beetles in his book, The Curious World of Bugs.

Letter 18 – Rainbow Scarab from North Carolina


Subject: Strange beetle
Location: Waxhaw, NC
May 3, 2013 2:55 pm
Please identify this bug.
Signature: Mrs. Cape

Rainbow Scarab
Rainbow Scarab

Dear Mrs. Cape,
This is a Rainbow Scarab,
Phanaeus vindex. Judging by the spare nature of your request, we suspect you might not be the curious type.  We have answered your question, but we don’t know if you are interested in knowing that this is a Dung Beetle that feeds its young on excrement.  The beetles, sometimes working in pairs, roll a ball of dung and move it to an appropriate underground location.  The female and sometimes the male guards the nursery.  This is a male.  He has a horn.  We feel this is one of the loveliest Dung Beetles in the world. 

The Best Way to Search WTB?
As an aside, the best way to search our site is to just use google which has the world’s best search engine.  Here is what we found when we typed in rainbow scarab whatsthatbug.com

These are all photos on our site which has in excess of 10,000 distinct postings.

Letter 19 – Rainbow Scarab and mysterious mud mounds


Subject: Please identify
Location: North Miami, Florida
October 27, 2013 12:27 pm
Found this bug dead in my backyard and my yard has mysterious mounds of mud/ dirt about 1/2 ” all over. Want to know this bug and it is related to these mound on my lawn ?
Thanks for your help and time!
Signature: Jennifer

Rainbow Scarab
Rainbow Scarab

Hi Jennifer,
This is a female Dung Beetle known as a Rainbow Scarab.  Like other Dung Beetles, Rainbow Scarabs gather fresh fecal matter, roll it into a ball and bury it after laying an egg.  Dung Beetles often work in pairs and they often guard the young, continuing to feed the growing larvae with fresh dung.  We do not believe they are related to your mystery mud mounds.  We will be postdating your submission to go live in early November while we are away from the office.  Perhaps one of our readers can assist with the mysterious mud mounds.

Mysterious Mud Mound
Mysterious Mud Mound


Letter 20 – Rainbow Scarab: Phanaeus difformis


Hello Bugman. I found this weird looking beetle in my dog’s water bowl and I promptly brought it into the house so that I could Google it. After not finding it, I remembered your site (which I’ve been to a couple times before) and searched through the pages of beetles but I haven’t found it yet. Its about the same size as a quarter (as the picture shows) and is a metallic green color with metallic copper color on the carapace (?). It sports a single curved horn on its head. Sorry about the quality of the pictures, its been gloomy and wet all day.
Clay Bridges
Henderson, Texas

hi Clay,
Your beetle is type of Dung Beetle commonly called a Rainbow Scarab, Phanaeus difformis. it is related to the similar looking, more common Rainbow Scarab, Phaneas vindex. BugGuide has a nice graphic that shows how to distinguish the two species based on the shape of pronotum.

Letter 21 – Rainbow Scarab Road Kill


Squished at 55 mph
Hi Bugaholics!
I was driving home from work the other day, and a breathtakingly beautiful beetle hit my windshield. I thought I’d been hit by a rock! The poor critter dropped into the area where the windshield wipers attach, and bedazzled me for the rest of the ride home. Unfortunately, he/she was a bit … um … disassembled. I tried to put various parts basically back into place without much luck. Surely this is a good specimen for the carnage section. So, what the heck kind of beetle is it? Wildlife has always interested me, and I have always been fascinated by bugs; but I’ve never seen this type before.

Hi Raven,
We are sorry to disappoint you, but unintentional insecticide does not belong on our unnecessary carnage pages which are reserved of conscious killing. We don’t hold you responsible for not breaking for this poor, misdirected Rainbow Scarab that flew directly into your path of travel, unless of course you were distracted by talking on the cell phone. We are thrilled to post your photo to our beetle section and our homepage. The Rainbow Scarab, Phanaeus vindex, is actually a Dung Beetle.

Letter 22 – Rainbow Scarabs rescued from Swimming Pool


Subject:  Rescued Dung Beetles
Geographic location of the bug:  Hialeah Florida
Date: 03/15/2019
Time: 12:12 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I often see dung beetles drowning in my swimming pool-not sure why they wind up in there so often. Last Dec 31 I netted four of them in a few minutes and set them on a wall to dry out and take photos before they wandered away. One was gone before I could get back with the camera. I love how their shells vary- one had a beautiful long curving horn and side spikes on the shield. I wonder if that’s a variation due to age or gender or is it just that some beetles get lucky in the shell genetic lottery?
How you want your letter signed:  Marian

Rainbow Scarabs

Dear Marian,
Your image of rescued Rainbow Scarabs, a type of Dung Beetle, is awesome, as is the rescue story.  We are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award.  Male Rainbow Scarabs have the horn, but there is some genetic lottery involved as well.  According to BugGuide:  “Pronotum of ‘major’ male has sharp posterior angles.  Major males, depicted, are easier to differentiate than minor males (w/ short horns) and females (w/ very short horns).”

Letter 23 – Scarab


Subject: Bug on Roses on California
Location: Central Valley, Ceres, California
April 18, 2017 4:48 pm
This bug appears only on light colored roses inside the bud and on the outside, what kind of bug is this?
Signature: Michelle

Scarab Beetle

Dear Michelle,
This is some species of Scarab Beetle, but we are unable to provide a species identification at this time.

Letter 24 – Scarab Beetle


carrizo plain beetle
Hi, I was visiting the Carrizo Plain east of Atascadero yesterday. About 5:30 pm these beetles started to get active. they seem to like to eat flowers. This flower is Thistle sage. I was at the plain a couple of years ago and right on schedule, the fiddle neck flowers were suddenly alive with hungry beetles munching flowers. The beetle is about 1/2 inch long or a bit more. Quite handsome I think. The notable thing I see, which may be distinctive, is a hairy fringe bordering the outer wings. Well, that’s how it looks, but probably the fringe is part of the inner wings. Without disturbing it, it was hard to tell. I don’t collect insects anymore since the dermistids got ahead of me at some point. It’s “catch, observe, release” now. Thanks for your great site. I used it last summer to ID the long horned alder borers I found crawling on a -you guessed it- freshly painted wall. I couldn’t resist poking them to see if they would hiss. Yes. Just like the Eucalyptus long horned borers do! Let me know when you find out. thanks
Sylva B. Los Angeles, CA

Hi Sylva,
This Scarab Beetle is Paracotalpa ursina and we cannot locate a common name. Interestingly, there is a photo posted to BugGuide of the species from 2006 and it is also in Carrizo Plains and it is also on thistle sage. Also of interest to us is that our friend and neighbor Clare Marter-Kenyon just mentioned seeing Thistle Sage for the first time.

Hi Daniel,
thanks. I am your neighbor, as I live on North Avenue 51, near Oxy.. I know Clare. It’s always fun to learn a new plant. I’ll send you a couple of photos of thistle sage from a 2 years ago, on the plain. Beautiful. Also, I have a photo for the bug love category. Thanks again for such quick response. Knowing the species, thanks to you, I found out that the beetle emerges from holes in the ground. Probably always in the evening when temp & wind die down. Type specimin at Harvard looks like it is covered with golden fur!!!
Sylva B

Letter 25 – Scarab Beetle


Subject: Giant bee-looking insect in Denver
Location: Denver, CO
July 23, 2015 4:04 pm
I found this insect dead outside and I would love to know what it is!
Signature: Lindsey

Scarab Beetle
Scarab Beetle

Dear Lindsey,
We wish you had also provided a
dorsal view as that would have made identification much easier for us.  We believe this is one of the Lined June Beetles in the genus Polyphylla.  There are 32 species in North America, according to BugGuide.  One of the more common species in Western North America is the Ten Lined June Beetle, Polyphylla decemlineata.

Letter 26 – Scarab Beetle eats tomato


Subject: Tomato eating June beetle?
Location: Garden, Western Wisconsin
August 26, 2014 9:31 pm
Dear bugman,
This is a new beetle I haven’t see before that ate its way through one of my tomatoes leaving behind a canyon in its wake. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen, and I can’t seem to find it any where online. It seems similar to the common June beetles, but the colors are much more vibrant and it has a healthy amount of hair underneath the shell and on top of its head. It is almost as wide as it is long with misshapen spots and stripes on the shell. I have not known June beetles to eat fruits so this is rather puzzling. Maybe a type of Japanese beetle?
Signature: Derek

Scarab Beetle
Possibly Bumble Flower Beetle

Hi Derek,
June Beetles and Japanese Beetles are both Scarab Beetles in the family Scarabaeidae, and the tomato eater in your image is also a Scarab Beetle, but it is neither a June Beetle nor a Japanese Beetle.  This is not the ideal image for identification as it does not show the entire beetle.  It might be a Bumble Flower Beetle,
Euphoria inda, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults visit flowers for pollen and/or nectar. Sometimes damage flowers. Also takes rotting fruit, corn, sap, other plant juices.” 

Letter 27 – Scarab Beetle from Ecuador


Subject: jewel scarab of some sort?
Location: Ecuador, Pichincha province
July 8, 2017 5:23 pm
Hi. I saw this beetle in the cloud forest of Ecuador but have been unable to identify it. I’ve narrowed it down to some variety of jewel scarab (Chrysina sp.). Perhaps you could help me?
Signature: Camille

Scarab Beetle

Dear Camille,
We will post your image of a male Scarab (note the antennae) and attempt to determine a genus and species identification for you.  Perhaps Cesar Crash from Insetologia will recognize this Scarab Beetle.  We looked at the genus
Chrysina on the Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles and no pictured individuals have a scutellum shaped like the one on your individual (see BugGuide where it states: “The scutellum typically forms a small posteriorly-pointing triangle at the base of the folded wings”), so we are not convinced that genus is correct.  This image of Calomacraspis haroldi on the Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles has a scutellum shaped like your individual.  Following that lead regarding the subtribe Anticheirina, we believe your Scarab might be Dorysthetus taeniata, which is pictured on the Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles.

Thank you so much Daniel! You are right about the shape/size of the scutellum. I noticed it but didn’t know what it was called or how to search for that difference. You are probably right about the genus Dorysthetus, but I’m not so sure about the species of Dorysthetus taeniata (at least compared with the photos I can find online). There is a lot of green edging on the scutellum as well as the insect’s nose area and eyes. Also, you can’t see it as well in this photo, but there are 4 light-colored spots along the very back sides. This is close enough for my labeling purposes although if you find out more, I would love to know for sure.
Thanks again!
Camille Lamoureux

Letter 28 – Scarab Beetle from Argentina


Subject: Beetle
Location: Buenos Aires
November 7, 2015 9:15 am
What this bug eats?
Signature: Carlos

Scarab Beetle from Argentina
Scarab Beetle from Argentina

Dear Carlos,
We believe we have correctly identified your Scarab Beetle as
Gymnetis chalcipes, by first matching your individual to an image on Ben’s Beetle Breeding Pages.  We also found images on the Butterflies and Beetles of Argentina.

Scarab Beetle from Argentina
Scarab Beetle from Argentina

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your prompt response,  following the links you gave me. I found it as the litigiosa variant of the chalcipes.
Kind Regards!
Have a nice weekend.

Letter 29 – Scarab Beetle from Ecuador is Gymnestis stellata


Subject: Unique Beetle
Location: Guayaquil, Ecuador
April 27, 2013 3:53 pm
On night while I was in Guayaquil, Ecuador, I found this unique little beetle enjoying my soft bed as I retired to go to sleep. Of course, I relocated him to a more suitable sleeping location for beetles, but not before snapping a few pictures to remember him by. Though I love bugs, I’m not very good at identifying them. Hopefully you enjoy the pictures, and are able to find out a bit more about him! This beetle was about the size of a nickle.
Also, how can I learn to identify bugs? What websites/books would you recommend?
Signature: Eric

Scarab Beetle:  Gymnestis stellata
Scarab Beetle: Gymnestis stellata

Hi Eric,
This gorgeous specimen is a Scarab Beetle, and we believe it is either Gymnestis stellata or a very closely related species.  We initially found a matching photo on the French website Le forum des sciences de la vie et de la Terre.  We are also very amused that you can get a Venezuelan phone card with this beetle’s photo on the Colnect website.  We would suggest that you get a good field guide for your locality as a way to begin to learn more about insects.  If you are from North America, we recommend the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America by Eric Eaton.

Scarab Beetle:  Gymnetis stellata
Scarab Beetle: Gymnetis stellata

Thanks for the quick reply, your identification seems unquestionable based on the other pictures Google supplies! I’ll pick up Eric Eaton’s book as soon as I’m able!
I also have a few more pictures from my stay in Ecuador, if you’d like me to send them in.
Much appreciated!

Please submit one at a time and put Ecuador in the subject line.

Letter 30 – Scarab Beetle from Honduras: Gymnetosoma stellata


Subject:  Tiger painted beetle.
Geographic location of the bug:  Tegucigalpa
Date: 07/09/2018
Time: 08:44 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello. I found this 1.5 cm beetle in the sidewalk. Is the first time I see one like this.
How you want your letter signed:  Enrike

Scarab Beetle: Gymnetosoma stellata

Dear Enrike,
We identified your beautiful Scarab Beetle as 
Gymnetosoma stellata thanks to BioLib.  It is pictured on a stamp from Nicaragua in the Adobe Stock Images site.

Letter 31 – Scarab Beetle from India: Protaetia aurichalcea


Subject:  Identification of beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Gujarat, india
Date: 06/30/2019
Time: 05:40 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Studying entomology
How you want your letter signed:  Ekta

Scarab Beetle:  Protaetia aurichalcea

Dear Ekta,
We believe we have correctly identified this Scarab Beetle as
Protaetia aurichalcea thanks to images on PXHere.  It is also pictured on India Biodiversity Portal.

Letter 32 – Scarab Beetle from Mexico


Beautiful beetle
Location:  Jalisco, Mexico
August 17, 2010 11:13 pm
A month ago I founded this very nice beetlle and after a posting that I saw today I decided to share some pictures with you, it was at least 2 inches long, something really interesting regarding it, it’s the defencive position on picture 1.
Jorge Farias

Beyer's Scarab

Hola Jorge,
Thanks for sending us your photos of a Beyer’s Scarab,
Chrysina beyeri.  It is in the same genus as the image we posted yesterday of a Glorious Scarab.  Sightings of Beyer’s Scarab on BugGuide are confined to Arizona.  While searching for information on Beyer’s Scarab, we found an informal paper written by Scott McCleve ( chrysina_beyeri ) posted on http://www.zin.ru/animalia/coleoptera/eng/chrysbey.htm

Beyer's Scarab

Letter 33 – Scarab Beetle from Rwanda


Subject:  Does anyone know what kind of bug his is?
Geographic location of the bug:  Kigali,Rwanda
Date: 11/01/2019
Time: 05:18 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I came across this bug in the gym, it looked dead but it wasn’t, when I touched it, it flew away.
Does anyone know what is the name of the insect?
How you want your letter signed :  N/A

Scarab Beetle: Pachnoda aemula

Dear N/A,
This is a beautiful Scarab Beetle.  We found a matching image on terrarium.pl where it is identified as
Pachnoda aemula.  Another possibility is  Pachnoda sinuatapictured on iSpot.

Letter 34 – Scarab Beetle from Serbia


Subject:  Pentodon species identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Žagubica, Serbia.
Date: 12/20/2018
Time: 01:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Thanks to iNaturalist community I found out that the genus of this Coleoptera is Pentodon spp. but I can’t figure out what species it is because all of them look the same to me, and I couldn’t find any keys for this genus online. The specimen was collected in June 2017 (not by me). According this site: http://bioras.petnica.rs/pretraga.php?searchtext=pentodon
there are only 3 species (and one subspecies) in Serbia, so it’s likely one of them, but again they look practically the same to me. The insect is just under 2 cm. I can try to take additional photos if necessary.
How you want your letter signed:  Regards, Mihajlo

Scarab Beetle

Dear Mihajlo,
We are not familiar with this genus of Scarab Beetles, but since it is in the subfamily Dynastinae, the Rhinoceros Beetles, we suspect this is a female since most males in this subfamily have fantastic horns.  Females present an additional identification challenge as they are often quite similar looking.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide additional information.  We get so few submissions from Serbia.

Scarab Beetle

Thank you for your reply. In the meantime I found out what species it is. Someone from iNaturalist who is also from Serbia said that there is actually only one species in Serbia which is Pentodon idiota.

Letter 35 – Scarab Beetle Grub


What is this interesting thing!?!?!
Tampa, Florida
My sister was cleaning out her garage and stumbled across this half beetle/half grub – like creature. She emailed me the pictures ( sorry for the blurriness) because I am a marine scientist so she assumes I know all terrestrial creatures as well. Well I have NO IDEA -never seen one before in my life. The head looks like a beetle, the 6-8 legs are cockroach-like, and the body resembles that of some kind of caterpillar larvae. When they placed the fork by its head, they could here it trying to chomp on it with its buccal appendages. Please let us know what this fascinating little guy is – we are curious to know! Thanks for your help!
Jessica Dobson
Tampa, Florida

Hi Jessica,
This is a Scarab Beetle Grub, probably one of the June Beetles. Beetle Grubs are considered nutritious in many parts of the world. We are sure your sister is salivating over the giant Root Borer we just posted from Mexico.

Letter 36 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Grub? But the Size?
We found this LARGE grub like thing while cleaning out a junk area in the yard. Can you tell us what it is? And what it may turn into?
Jason Wilson
Austin Texas

Hi Jason,
You have a large Scarab Beetle grub, possibly one of the June Beetles. June Beetle grubs live in the ground and feed on the roots of grasses and other shrubs. Some Scarabs get quite large as both grubs and adults. Sorry I can’t provide an exact species name for you.

Letter 37 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Location: Jacksonville, NC
January 22, 2013 6:21 pm
This bug was found outside Jacksonville, NC home. Please identify.
Signature: Respectfully, KSA

Scarab Grub

Dear KSA,
This is the grub of a Scarab Beetle, most likely one of the May Beetles commonly called June Bugs.

Letter 38 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Subject: What Is This Totally Nasty Thing??!!
Location: 10933 Gilbert Drive, Beaumont, Texas 77705
January 23, 2016 1:55 pm
My husband found this thing, the nastiest looking thing ever on this planet, this morning (Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016) on our back porch here in Fannett, Texas. Our exact address for GPS purposes is 10933 Gilbert Drive, Beaumont, Texas 77705. NASTY!!
Signature: Kathi and Richard Orgeron


Dear Kathi and Richard,
This is the grub of a Scarab Beetle, but we have never seen one so blue.  We are not certain of the species, but we suspect it belongs to a Rhinoceros Beetle in the subfamily Dynastinae.  Members of this family include some of the largest beetles in the world, including the heaviest North American beetle, the Eastern Hercules Beetle that is found in Texas.  Here is a BugGuide image of the grub of an Eastern Hercules Beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae live in rotting heartwood of logs and stumps, particularly hardwoods, but sometimes pine.”  We are uncertain why you found this grub on your porch, but if someone was splitting firewood, or if firewood is stored on the back porch, the appearance may be connect to the wood.


Letter 39 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Subject: ODD ivory colored insect that bites
Location: Mississippi
November 13, 2016 4:39 pm
My son was bitten by what he called a “mean caterpillar”. However, I don’t believe it is a caterpillar. I have no idea what this insect might be. Please help.
Thank you,
The Parker’s
Signature: Alicia

Scarab Beetle Grub
Scarab Beetle Grub

Dear Alicia,
This is the grub of a Scarab Beetle, probably one of the June Beetles.  There is no concern regarding the bite.

Letter 40 – Scarab Beetle Grub


Subject:  Bug found burrowing in dirt
Geographic location of the bug:  St Croix USVI
Date: 02/27/2018
Time: 01:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We had a landslide into our planters after hurricane Maria. We found these bugs burrowing in the dirt. And we have no idea what they are but look like they could bite.
How you want your letter signed:  Janice DeWald

Scarab Beetle Grub

Dear Janice,
This is the grub of a Scarab Beetle and they are not aggressive.  They are often found near rotting stumps, in compost piles and many species feed on the roots of grasses, so they are also found in lawns and gardens.

Letter 41 – Scarab Beetle Grub: Ox Beetle


what beetles will they be?
I want to thank you in advance in helping so many people identify all kinds of bugs. I am living in Houston, TX. I found some huge grubs under a fallen oak tree trunk. Here are some of the pics. Could you polease kindly help me what species are they? Have a great day!

Hi Yen,
We are way behind in our mail and when we went to BugGuide to research your Scarab Grub, we saw that you had the image posted and Eric Eaton responded that this is “one of the scarabs, stag beetles, or bess beetles. ”

(12/17/2005) HI
I found out that it is ox beetle instead. Regards,

Letter 42 – Scarab Beetle Grubs


Subject:  Mystery Grub
Geographic location of the bug:  Orange County, CA
Date: 12/02/2017
Time: 12:49 AM EDT
Hello.  I moved a tent in my backyard and found many of these grubs.  One of the ones was much bigger than the others.  You can see it in the photo compared to my thumb.
How you want your letter signed:  Michael

Scarab Beetle Grubs

Dear Michael,
These are Scarab Beetle Grubs.  Many species feed on the roots of grasses.  Others are found in or near decaying vegetation, including in compost piles and rotted logs.  We are postdating your submission to go live near the end of the month when our editorial staff is on holiday.

Letter 43 – Scarab Beetle Head Beads in Ecuadorean Shuar Necklace


October 4, 2010
Dear Bug Man,
I’m happy to respond to your inquiry about the Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer and how it’s elytra is used in Shuar jewelry.

Although it is true that I spent several weeks in a remote Shuar village in Ecuador, I am not an expert on the beetles of the Amazon.  I can, however, attest to the great variety and quantity of bugs and beetles in the area, as well as the Shuar’s use of beetles to make decorative ornaments.

I was in Ecuador to make a documentary about headhunting– a complex ritual that had been outlawed many years before I visited the Amazon (although many of the elders were able to clearly describe the practice from memory).  The morning I took leave of the village, I traded my rain jacket and rubber boots for several wonderful handmade objects from local villagers, including three beautiful necklaces.

I am attaching a close view of one of the necklaces, which is made of beetle shells, as well as various seeds, bones and claws.  I’m not sure if these are the same beetles you are researching, but I thought the necklace might be of interest to your readers.

Shuar Necklace with Beetle Heads

Regarding Shuar food, I didn’t intentionally eat any beetles during my time in the Amazon jungle, but I did swallow a few bugs accidentally.  I also found many large beetles in my sleeping bag before I learned that I should keep it in a giant plastic bag until I was ready for bed.  Finally, I had part of an Amazonian bug (unidentified) removed from my ear a few weeks after I returned from my trip.

I didn’t eat Sunday dinner in Ecuador, but I enjoyed a number of festive communal meals that I believe served a similar function — to join in celebration of friends and family through a good meal.  The Shuar are extremely hospitable and prepared many wonderful dishes for the crew.  Our most delicious and memorable meal consisted of guinea pig steamed in large, fragrant leaves in the ashes of a fire pit.  Some of the more squeamish members of our team preferred to refer to the meat as “chicken”, despite the fact that there was a hut that housed at least thirty guinea pigs near the kitchen facilities.  We also drank chicha, a highly viscous drink made of fermented yucca.  To make chicha, the women of the village collect the yucca root, chew pieces of the yucca until it has the consistency of a fibrous paste and then spit it into large buckets.  The saliva begins the fermentation process that creates the alcohol content of chicha.  It is still used as a ceremonial drink to welcome visitors.  Chica tastes vaguely like beer and is rather pleasant if you don’t mind the fact that it’s two main ingredients are yucca and human saliva.  After a few days in the Amazon, I liked drinking chicha.

Sunday dinner or not, I enjoyed good food, good drink (at least drink with alcohol content) and good company while visiting the Shuar– that says “Sunday Dinner” to me!

Susan Lutz

Shuar Necklace detail of Beetle Head

Dear Susan Lutz,
Thank you so much for your response to our query.  The beetle parts on your lovely necklace appear to be the heads of Scarab Beetles, though we are not certain of the species.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to contribute an identification.  There are several metallic green species in North America, including the Emerald Euphoria pictured on BugGuide and the Figeater from our own archives.  Though you were unable to provide any additional information on the Giant Metallic Ceiba Borer, we are certain our readership will be enthralled with your personal account of your Amazon exploits as well as the artifact you have illustrating the decorative use of insects by the indigenous people of the Amazon.

Letter 44 – Scarab Beetle from Israel


Subject: Killer Scarab from The Mummy?
Location: a few miles inland of Caesarea, Israel
May 31, 2016 11:35 am
Hi, this guy was waiting for me outside my door when I got home tonight. Didnt move. Just waiting patiently for his moment to jump onto my face. His carapace has some interesting coloration and is slightly smaller than my thumb(he’s a big one). He’s also got some big old wingtips protruding from the back of his shell, so you know he’s a flyer.
Signature: Terrified Yet Fascinated

Scarab Beetle:  Anoxia orientalis
Scarab Beetle: Anoxia orientalis

Dear Terrified Yet Fascinated,
We have correctly identified your Scarab Beetle as Anoxia orientalis thanks to the Israel’s Nature Site, and we verified that identification on The Scarabs of the Levant where it states:  “This species is widely distributed in Eastern Europe, Turkey and Levant: Syria, Lebanon (Beirut, Saida) and Israel (Haifa).”

Letter 45 – Scarab Beetle from Peru


Subject: Unknown bug from Peru
Location: Central Peru
January 5, 2014 2:40 pm
Dear bugman,
thanks for all the help with my previous posts! I still have quite a collection of unidentified insects/spider etc pics and am very glad I found your website, so I will keep them coming to you if you don’t mind…
This is a picture of a pretty tiny bug I also took in central Peru, at about 1.000m altitude. Any idea what it is? Thank you again, congratulations on your great website and best wishes!
Signature: Frank

Scarab Beetle from Peru
Scarab Beetle from Peru

Hi Frank,
This is a Scarab Beetle in the family Scarabidae.  If it is a small beetle, chances are not really great that we will be able to determine a species identification for you.

Letter 46 – Scarab Beetle Pupa from Serbia


Subject: Uknown bug pupa/nymph
Location: South-eastern europe/Serbia
July 7, 2016 6:41 am
I found this bug pupa/nymph buried under ground in a group of four. They are filled with some white, almost milk like fluid and are found few inches below ground. It looks familiar to me, but I am not sure what it actually is, so I’m want to know is this bug dangerous and can it do any damage to the crops in the garden.
Signature: MD

Scarab Beetle Pupa
Scarab Beetle Pupa

Dear MD,
We are very confident that this is the Pupa of a Scarab Beetle in the family Scarabaeidae and our first thought is that it must be the Pupa of a Cockchafer since that is the most common European Scarab Beetle submitted to our site, however, based on this image posted to the Gardening & Landscaping Stack Exchange and this image posted to the HYPP Zoology page, after clicking the link, we believe you have a different species.  According to Research Gate:  “A total of 178 species, 83 genera, 15 tribes, and 7 subfamilies of the family Scarabaeidae are recorded from Serbia.”  This image of a pupa of a female European Rhinoceros Beetle,
Oryctes nasicornis ondrejanus, from BioLib looks much closer.  

Scarab Beetle Pupa
Scarab Beetle Pupa
Scarab Beetle Pupa
Scarab Beetle Pupa

Letter 47 – Scarab Beetle trapped in Pitcher Plant


Subject: Bug in my pitcher plant
Location: Altadena, CA
October 27, 2013 8:00 pm
I found this guy in my pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla). I don’t normally rescue bugs that fall into my plants’ mouths, traps or dew. However, after listening to this poor guy scratch to get out for three days, I took some pictures then tipped the plant over so he could escape. It took him about three seconds to get out of the plant. He took another three seconds to flip himself over then he flew away. I know these bugs are quite common because I have a collection of three dead ones I have found over the summer. Please can you give me the common and scientific name of this beautiful beetle?
Signature: Dawg Mom

Scarab Beetle trapped in Pitcher Plant
Scarab Beetle trapped in Pitcher Plant

Dear Dawg Mom,
The best we are able to provide from this angle of view is a family ID.  This is a Scarab Beetle in the family Scarabidae.

Letter 48 – Scarab encased in acrylic


Subject: Bug ID Request…
Location: New Zealand
June 22, 2016 11:51 pm
Hi Daniel, my daughter has a question for you…
Hi Daniel, my name is alice. I am six. can you please tell me what this bug is? Its body is just under 3.5cm long. It is encased in plastic. We live in New Zealand but don’t know where this bug came from.
Thank you for reading this. Love from Alice. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Signature: Alice and Stephen McLuckie

Scarab preserved in Lucite
Scarab preserved in Lucite

Dear Alice and Stephen,
Most of these lucite insect trinkets are made in Asia, and we presume they are using native insects to embed in the plastic.  The beetle is a Scarab Beetle and AliExpress has an identical example for sale on their site that is identified as a Chinese Green Scarab Beetle.

Letter 49 – Scarab from Maine


Hi, I hope the summer swamping has slacked off enough that you can help with this beetle. I went through your beetle pages, but couldn’t find it. Two of them appeared here in mid-coast Maine last summer. I hadn’t seen any before or since It could fly, and was about an inch long. Thanks.

Hi Steven,
We are seeking assistance from Eric Eaton with your mystery Scarab Beetle. Here is Eric’s response: ” Hi, Daniel: The scarab from Maine is Osmoderma scabra, I’m pretty sure. That genus certainly. They supposedly give off the odor of Russian leather, but no one I know knows what that is supposed to smell like! Eric”

Letter 50 – Scarab Grub


Subject: What is this thing
Location: Riverside, CA, USA
October 24, 2013 8:38 am
We found two of these in two days. One in the entry and one in the laundry room. Curled up in about an inch diameter or less. These things look like some parasite out of a horror flick.
They are really freaking us out. What is it, and where is it living. Doesn’t look like its little legs in front would be any good for moving around on any surfaces, so we are suspecting that one of our animals has some kind of huge disgusting parasite.
Signature: WildermanFamily

Scarab Grub
Scarab Grub

Dear Wilderman Family,
This is the grub of a Scarab Beetle, not a parasite.  They are often found underground when digging in the garden.  We don’t know how they wound up in your laundry room.  Do you have a compost pile nearby.  Perhaps they are Crawlybacks, the larvae of the large Figeaters that are found in Southern California in late summer.

Letter 51 – Scarab Beetle from Ecuador


Subject: Pelidnota sp. from Ecuador
Location: Ecuador
January 9, 2016 7:31 am
Found this at Cabanas San Isidro on the west slope of the Andes in Ecuador. Pattern of black spots does not match the Grapevine Borer we have in North America. Two photos found with an internet search were also taken in Ecuador that match mine, but neither of this is identified to species. Can this one be identified? Thanks very much!
Signature: Allen T. Chartier

Shining Leaf Chafer
Scarab Beetle

Hi Again Allen,
We cannot say for certain that this is a member of the genus
Pelidnota despite its resemblance to the North American Grapevine Beetle.  We do believe it is is the Shining Leaf Chafer subfamily Rutilinae.  Alas, we have not had any luck finding any matching images online.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck than we have had.

Thanks again for the quick reply. I have been fooled before with look-alikes to North American species. Has any museum put out digital photos of their insect collections? I know that many are doing that for birds…
Allen T. Chartier

Not that we know about.

Karl provides an identification
Hi Daniel and Allen:
Your beetle is probably Ancognatha sp., specifically Ancognatha vulgaris (Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae). As a group, beetles in the subfamily Dynastinae are often referred to as Rhinoceros Beetles because of characteristic horns worn by the males of most species. This species is appears atypical in that respect, based on a photo of both sexes posted on the Perou-Insectes site. Regarding your inquiry about museums posting digital photos of their insect collections, there are a few but they tend to be very specific regionally, taxonomically or both. Less focussed online databases are usually rather sparse but sometimes you get lucky. For example, click on the image at: the Pictorial beetle collection of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Mal, N., Drumont, A., Kerkhof, S. & P. Grootaert, 2012). Regards. Karl

Letter 52 – Scarab Beetle from South Africa


Unidentified beetle
Location: Mariepskop, Mpumalanga, South Africa
July 24, 2011 2:44 pm
An interesting beetle that i cannot identify
Signature: Peter Sharland

Unknown South African Scarab Beetle

Dear Peter,
Some parts of the world, like Australia, Great Britain and North America have numerous internet resources for insect identification, while places like South Africa have a dearth of internet resources for insects, which is ironic as there are so many magnificent African species that are sold as mounted specimens.  Though our research on this Scarab Beetle has drawn a blank, we did find an Field Guide to Insects of South Africa that you might consider purchasing if you have other questions about the natural world in South Africa.  Sadly, our limited office space does not allow us the luxury of a comprehensive library for guide books for insects from around the world, and we must limit our research to the internet.  All we can offer at the moment is that this is a Scarab Beetle.  We are not sure of the identity of the other romantic couple in your photograph, though they appear to be Carrion Beetles.
Shortly after posting, we did one last ditch effort and we believe this may be a Flower Scarab in the genus
Leucocelis, based on photos posted to the Beetles of Africa website.  A photo of Leucocelis haemorrhoidalis from the Flower Beetles website looks very close.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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Tags: Dung Beetle

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23 Comments. Leave new

  • Hello Peter,
    this is genus Cyrtothyrea, maybe Cyrtothyrea marginalis.


  • Hello Peter,
    this is genus Cyrtothyrea, maybe Cyrtothyrea marginalis.


  • What a beauty!

  • Could the mounds be from earthworms? Crawfish build mud “chimneys”.

  • I’ve seen the same mounds in my yard today!

  • When these scarabs began to show up in our community garden they went after grapes and tomaoes, enmass. Some months after they were gone, while tirning over some composite soil, I unearthed some large grubs. They epwere about two inches long and almos 1/4″ wide and cream colored. Would have been great fish bait for someone. All years I’ve gardened never saw these things show up until the scarabs appeared. Just this last year during winter inunearthed one in my balcony compost pot. And being in different area these scarabs showed up here as well for about 3 months. I believe these grubs are scarab beetle larva. What else? And what say you?

    • That sounds like a very good possibility. Many Scarabs have grubs that will thrive in a compost pile.

  • The mud mounds are worm castings. So good for the garden!

  • Thanks again! If you hear of more input, let me know.

  • They change color when they dry out or die.

  • Is this one diseased?

  • Patti Reinhart
    May 12, 2018 11:50 am

    When I worked as a correctional officer I had 1 incarcerated individual throw in the shower stall with another incarcerated individual and that poor chap ran out of the shower screaming about something removing a very important part of his anatomy! It was an extremely large light tan insect that had 2 pinchers on the front of it. It was a good 3 inches long and not a slim bug. This was in New Hampshire and I have never seen another. Just curious and I do realize I may not have given you much to go on. The end of the story is that the chap that threw it in the shower had to remove it and the other guy was not hurt. Extremely funny and thankfully no one got hurt.

  • Brittany Jones
    September 4, 2018 5:53 am

    I am just curious if it is normal that I found these in my backyard in Kansas, USA?
    to look it up and running across your site(which is incredible btw), I found it funny that I had no clue what to search so I looked up bug in dirt that looks like a shrimp?? lol
    anywho, NEVER seen anything like it, but I am also new to this area- originally from Oregon in the Willamette Valley and I have yet to become accustomed to many of the insects(NOT TO MENTION THEIR SIZE AND SHEER VOLUME OF ALL OF THEM) and I am mostly wondering if I can feed them and other cridders I have been catching in my yard, to my ornate box turtle[michelangelo] or my great plains toad[squeeks]? If you know, I mean, and/or maybe you can point me in a direction to gain more knowledge on the subject(s)? I have been feeding them all kinds of bugs I don’t know but I am concerned I will give them a bug that might make them sick… or worse?
    Thank you in advance!

  • Brittany Jones
    September 4, 2018 5:53 am

    I am just curious if it is normal that I found these in my backyard in Kansas, USA?
    to look it up and running across your site(which is incredible btw), I found it funny that I had no clue what to search so I looked up bug in dirt that looks like a shrimp?? lol
    anywho, NEVER seen anything like it, but I am also new to this area- originally from Oregon in the Willamette Valley and I have yet to become accustomed to many of the insects(NOT TO MENTION THEIR SIZE AND SHEER VOLUME OF ALL OF THEM) and I am mostly wondering if I can feed them and other cridders I have been catching in my yard, to my ornate box turtle[michelangelo] or my great plains toad[squeeks]? If you know, I mean, and/or maybe you can point me in a direction to gain more knowledge on the subject(s)? I have been feeding them all kinds of bugs I don’t know but I am concerned I will give them a bug that might make them sick… or worse?
    Thank you in advance!

  • I think thats a lucanid larvae.

  • I just can say that most Pentodontini have no horns, or have them only vestigial. Some Brazilian species have impressive horns tho.

  • I just can say that most Pentodontini have no horns, or have them only vestigial. Some Brazilian species have impressive horns tho.

  • Just found one today in Washington, NC. It’s a gorgeous female. Now released.

  • Amharic word t’īnizīza ጢንዚዛ

    source: google translate of amharic word.


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