How Fast is the Dung Beetle: Speed and Strength Unveiled

The dung beetle is a fascinating insect with remarkable abilities associated with its primary task of locating, processing, and burying dung. These beetles can be found across the globe and play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystems, as they help recycle nutrients and reduce harmful greenhouse gases. One characteristic that stands out is their impressive speed and strength.

Dung beetles, for instance, are known to travel long distances and roll balls of dung that can weigh up to 10 times their own body weight. They can also bury dung 250 times heavier than themselves in a single night link. These insects exhibit agility and endurance while performing their duties, making them efficient navigators and workers in their environment.

Some dung beetles even use celestial signals to direct their movements, ensuring they follow a straight path while rolling their dung balls during the day link. This intricate navigation system, combined with their physical prowess, signifies the amazing adaptability of dung beetles, making them truly remarkable creatures.

Overview of Dung Beetles

Dung Beetle Classification

Dung beetles belong to the order Coleoptera, family Scarabaeidae, and subfamily Scarabaeinae. They are classified into three main groups:

  • Telecoprids: Roll dung into balls and move them away from the original dung source.
  • Endocoprids: Live within the dung source and carry out their life cycle there.
  • Paracoprids: Bury dung into the ground under the original source.

Dung Beetle Habitats

Dung beetles inhabit various environments, such as:

  • Grasslands
  • Forests
  • Deserts
  • Farmlands

These insects play a crucial role in recycling nutrients in ecosystems.

Size and Physical Features

Dung beetles vary in size, ranging from 2-30 millimeters. They have some common physical characteristics:

  • Oval, stout bodies
  • Clubbed antennae
  • Strong legs enabling them to move and manipulate dung

For example, the Phanaeus vindex found in Texas A&M University is between ½ and 1 inch long, with a metallic blue-green and copper color. The difference between males and females of this species is the horn: males have a curved horn extending from the front of the head, while the slightly larger females lack this feature.

Roles in the Environment

Types of Dung Beetles: Rollers, Tunnelers, and Dwellers

There are three main types of dung beetles:

  • Rollers: Create and roll dung balls away from the dung pile.
  • Tunnelers: Bury dung directly beneath the pile.
  • Dwellers: Live within dung piles, and do not move it.

For example, the Scarabaeidae, Geotrupidae, and Aphodiinae are families of beetles that are known for removing, burying, or consuming dung. Each type has distinct behaviors and plays different roles in the environment.

Seed Burial and Seedling Recruitment

Dung beetles contribute to seed burial and seedling recruitment through their activities. By rolling or burying dung, they inadvertently move seeds away from their parent plants, promoting seed dispersal and vegetation growth.

For instance, one study found that nine Scarabaeidae species, including endocoprids, paracoprids, and telecoprids, were involved in seedling emergence as a result of their dung manipulation.

Nutrient Recycling

Nutrient recycling is another vital role played by dung beetles. They break down dung, aiding in nutrient cycling in ecosystems and improving soil fertility. Earth-boring dung beetles, for example, are essential in mixing and aerating soil through their dung burial activities.

Comparison of Dung Beetle Types:

Type Behavior Example Family
Rollers Roll dung balls away from the pile Scarabaeidae
Tunnelers Bury dung directly beneath the pile Geotrupidae
Dwellers Live within dung piles, not moving it Aphodiinae

Pros and Cons of Dung Beetles in the Environment:

Pros:

  • Seed dispersal and seedling recruitment, promoting vegetation growth.
  • Nutrient cycling and soil fertility improvement.
  • Reduction of parasites in the environment.

Cons:

  • Some species may compete for limited resources, such as dung.
  • Sensitivity to environmental changes, such as temperature, may affect their ecological functions.

Diet and Nutrition

Fresh Dung and Decaying Leaves

Dung beetles, being a part of the scarab beetle family, have a unique diet consisting primarily of feces1. Their strong sense of smell helps them locate fresh dung, which serves as their primary food. Some species also consume decaying leaves and mushrooms, supplementing their diet.

Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivorous Species

Dung beetle species can be classified into different categories based on their feeding habits:

  • Herbivores: Consume only plant-based dung
  • Omnivores: Consume both plant-based and animal-based dung
  • Carnivorous: Feed on other insects and occasionally their dung

For example, Deltochilum valgum is a rare carnivorous dung beetle2.

Feeding Habit Example Species Diet
Herbivores Aphodius species Plant-based dung
Omnivores Onthophagus species Plant-based and animal-based dung
Carnivorous Deltochilum valgum Insects and occasional dung

Nutrient Intake and Benefits

Dung beetles obtain vital nutrients from their diet:

  • Protein: Obtained from the dung of herbivores and omnivores, crucial for growth and reproduction
  • Fiber: Obtained from decaying leaves and plant-based waste materials present in the dung, helps in digestion

Their unique dietary habits provide the following benefits:

  • Breaking down and redistributing nutrients in the ecosystem
  • Aerating the soil through their nesting and tunneling activities3
  • Controlling populations of coprophagous insects, indirectly benefiting human and livestock health

In summary, dung beetles have a distinct diet based on feces, with variations in their feeding habits that impact ecosystems positively.

Reproduction and Parental Care

Mating Process

Dung beetles reproduce sexually, involving the joining of sperm from the father and eggs from the mother. Males locate and court females by quickly stroking their antennae and front legs on the female’s body. This specific process helps initiate the mating cycle.

Brood Balls and Nest Building

In some species like the Scarabaeus sacer, or sacred dung beetles, the parents have a unique method of ensuring their offspring’s survival:

  • Parents create brood balls from dung, which will house and provide nourishment for their developing larvae.
  • These brood balls are carefully shaped and rolled away from the dung source to prevent competition.
  • The nest building process is crucial for providing safe and nutrient-rich environments for offspring, as well as promoting seedling recruitment in the ecosystem.

Larvae Development

During the larvae development phase:

  • Females lay their eggs inside the brood ball, ensuring the future larvae will have enough food to grow.
  • After hatching, the larvae consume the dung within the brood ball, growing and molting a few times before reaching the pupal stage.
  • Eclosed adult beetles emerge from the pupal cases and begin their lives as new agents of the dung beetle community.

Dung beetle parents provide a certain level of parental care by creating brood balls, nests, and ideal environments for their offspring to develop. This process is essential for the survival and growth of the beetle population and contributes to maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Feature Sacred Dung Beetle Khepri
Mating and Reproduction Sexual reproduction and courtship Based on the dung beetle species
Brood Ball Creation Carefully crafted from dung Shared feature
Nest Building Rolled away from dung source Shared feature
Larvae Development and Care Eggs laid inside brood balls Shared feature

Strength and Speed

How Fast Is the Dung Beetle?

Dung beetles are known for their remarkable strength, but they also have impressive speed. They can roll a dung ball weighing up to 10 times their weight and travel long distances to find their preferred poop. While exact speed measurements are scarce, these beetles need to maintain a speedy pace to cover up to 30 miles in search of dung.

Strength Comparison to Other Insects

Dung beetles, especially the species Scarabaeus viettei, are renowned for their incredible strength. In fact, they are considered the strongest animals in the world, capable of pulling 1,141 times their body weight. That’s like a human pulling six fully loaded double-decker buses.

To better understand their strength, let’s compare them to two other insects:

Insect Strength-to-weight ratio
Dung Beetle 1,141x
Ant 50x
Termite 1x

As you can see, dung beetles vastly outshine ants and termites in terms of strength capabilities, making them extraordinary insects.

Cultural Significance

Symbolism in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, dung beetles, specifically the species Scarabaeus sacer, were revered for their perceived connection to the skies. They were believed to roll dung into a ball, similar to how the god Khepri rolled the sun across the sky. This association led to the creation of scarab beetle amulets made of faience, a glazed ceramic material, usually blue or green in color.

Literature and Science References

Dung beetles have found their way into literature as well. Notable examples include a poem by William Butler Yeats entitled “The Collarbone of a Hair” and the short story collection “Insects: An Explanation” by Frederick Merrick White. In science, the dung beetle has become a symbol of nutrient cycling and habitat conservation.

Fossilized Dung Balls and Evolution

Fossilized dung balls, known as coprolites, provide insights into the evolution of dung beetles and their ecological importance. For example:

  • The study of coprolites helps us understand prehistoric ecosystems
  • These fossils indicate the types of plants and animals that inhabited specific regions
  • Dung beetle evolution may be traced through changes in coprolite morphology
Time Period Habitat Dung Beetle Species
Ancient Egypt Nile River Valley Scarabaeus sacer
Prehistoric Times Varies (based on fossils) Undetermined

Pros of studying dung beetles:

  • Better understanding of ecosystem dynamics
  • Insight into nutrient cycling and seed dispersal

Cons of studying dung beetles:

  • Limited fossil record
  • Difficulty in identifying species from coprolites

Footnotes

  1. Missouri Department of Conservation – Dung Beetles (Tumblebugs)

  2. Carnivorous Dung Beetle – Deltochilum valgum

  3. Investigating the Dung Beetle Population at the Beef Grazing Farm, UW

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 – Giant Dung Beetle from South Africa

 

Huge black screaming beetle found in road
March 7, 2010
A friend found this beetle in Gezina, Pretoria, South Africa, last night (6 March 2010). It was screaming so loudly that he was able to hear it from inside his shop, so he went out to investigate, thinking that it was a bat that had been injured. It is missing some legs, but can still hobble around. I have looked around on the Internet and from what I have found, it seems to be some kind of dung beetle – the flightless one? Not sure, though, because it seems to me not as smooth as the flightless dung beetle, and its head and “shoulders” seem a bit different. The head is flat, and from when I held it in my hand and it got the head in between my fingers, I know that it must be quite strong, because it was able to push my fingers apart with the head.
Kirsten Eksteen, Pretoria, South Africa
Pretoria, South Africa (in the part of Pretoria called “The Moot”)

Giant Dung Beetle

Hi Kirsten,
We did a bit of research by web searching “largest beetles in Africa” and we found what appeared to be a match on the Beetles of Africa website, a commercial site for collectors.  There are several views of Heliocopris faunus that are called Giant Dung Beetles.  We double checked that identification, and found similar images for the genus Heliocopris on the Encyclopedia of Life website.  The God of Insects website, another commercial site, has images of the Elephant Dung Beetle, Heliocopris dominus, that also look similar to your specimen, which is most likely a female.  Many Scarab Beetles, the family that includes the Giant Dung Beetles, are able to make sounds, termed stridulation, but rubbing parts of their bodies together.

Giant Dung Beetle

Dear Daniel
Thanks for your unexpectedly speedy response! (seeing that it is Sunday, I didn’t expect to hear from you until at least tomorrow afternoon).
I appreciate the information and will go and investigate the sites that you have sent me.  Thanks, also, for saying that it is probably a female, and for giving me the correct word for the sound that she made.
By the way, I had a good chuckle about the “Just to prove you are a human being” part of your web page:  I wrote “White (when it’s clean!)”, to which the system replied, “Please double-check you verification code”.  In other words, “Prove that you are human by giving me a one-word answer;  I am not interested in whether or not you are witty or can think further than the obvious.”  That’s machines for you, eh?
Sincerely
Kirsten.

Letter 2 – Flower Beetle from Australia: Eupoecila inscripta

 

Subject: Pilbara Beetle
Location: South Hedland, Western Australia
December 31, 2013 3:10 am
Hi, we recently had a cyclone in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and on cleaning up the debris, I found this little guy. I have found a couple of photos on the net, but the name of the beetle continues to elude me. I hope you might be able to help identify this beetle. Thanks in advance.
Signature: Thanks, Anthony

Unknown Scarab Beetle
Flower Beetle:  Eupoecila inscripta

Hi Anthony,
We thought a beautiful and distinctive beetle such as this would be much easier to identify, but alas, a species or genus is eluding us.  We believe it may be a member of the Scarab Beetle subfamily Cetoniinae, known as the Flower Beetles in Australia.  This group includes the equally dramatic and beautiful Fiddler Beetle.  Perhaps we will have more luck later or perhaps one of our readers will come to our rescue with this identification.

Update:  Eupoecila inscripta
Thanks to a comment from Jacob, we were directed to Bowerbird where there is a nice set of images of the Flower Beetle, Eupoecila inscripta, and it looks like a perfect match to this lovely Scarab.  We also found a photo on FlickR.  The Atlas of Living Australia has sightings along the northern portion of West Australia.  We have already noted the similarity to the Fiddler Beetle, and our observation has some merit since the Fiddler Beetle, Eupoecila australasiae, is in the same genus that this Flower Beetle.

Letter 3 – Female Rainbow Scarab

 

Subject: Iridescent Dung Beetle?
Location: Bennett, CO
August 20, 2015 7:32 pm
We found this beetle in a water tank at the ranch where we board our horses in Bennett, CO just east of Denver on 8/20/2015. We think we’ve identified it as a dung beetle but I can seem to find any pictures on your website confirming this.
Signature: Curious in Colorado

Rainbow Scarab
Rainbow Scarab

Dear Curious in Colorado,
This is a female Rainbow Scarab,
Phanaeus vindex, and you are correct that it is a Dung Beetle.  We have numerous images on our site, but we just recently created a sub-subcategory for Dung Beetles that is embedded in our Scarab Beetle subcategory.  Here is a BugGuide image for confirmation.

Rainbow Scarab
Rainbow Scarab

Letter 4 – Earth Boring Scarab Beetle from Portugal: Trypocopris pyraneaus coruscans

 

Subject: Jewel Beetle?
Location: North of Portugal
April 18, 2013 1:35 am
Hello Mr Bugman. I’ve found this little bug while walking around a mountain in the North of Portugal.
Can you help me telling me if this is a jewel scarab and if it is a rare one?
Thank you! 🙂
Signature: Ana

Jewel Scarab
Earth Boring Scarab Beetle Beetle

Dear Ana,
This is certainly a Scarab Beetle, and we believe it is one of the Dung Beetles revered by the ancient Egyptians and memorialized in their jewelry, art and heiroglyphics.  We have never seen a Dung Beetle with such spectacular coloration and we have not had any luck finding any matching images on the internet.  Here is what we did find.  Though we are certain it is far from comprehensive, the Scarabaeidae Europe site on FlickR has nothing that even looks remotely similar.
  A search for the term Jewel Scarabs brought us to the Daily Croissant blog and a photo of a collection with a note it came from a February 2001 National Geographic Magazine article which refers to Central American beetles, so we can with some certainty speculate that your beetle is not one of the Jewel Scarabs from the article.  Encyclopaedia Britannica states:  “Scarab beetles are one of the most popular families with insect collectors because of the large size and beautifully coloured, hard, highly polished forewings of many species.”  We cannot believe we are having such a difficult time identifying such a gorgeous beetle.  We have requested assistance from Eric Eaton and perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply us with a comment, identification or correction.

Hello Daniel! Thank you! Ill send you a video that I captured. 🙂 It is really beautiful! Never thought I would like an insect so much. 😀

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
Yes, it is a type of “earth-boring dung beetle,” family Geotrupidae.  Looks like Trypocopris vernalis, or something very similar.  I thought it was a Geotrupes sp., but that genus has apparently been split.  Lots of species in Europe, Russia, not so many here in the U.S.
Nice find.
Eric

Update
Thanks to comments from Dave and Jacob H., we now know that this is an Earth Boring Scarab Beetle in the family Geotrupidae, and the species is
Trypocopris pyraneaus coruscans, with a matching photo on FlickR.  Even though this is not a Dung Beetle as we originally thought, BugGuide notes of the family that:  “These beetles spend most of their lives in burrows one to four feet down, often under dung or carrion” and “Larvae feed on dung or carrion. Adults feed on dung or fungi, or do not feed at all.”

Karl also provides the same identification
Hi Daniel and Ana:
It looks like an Earth-boring Dung Beetle (Geotrupidae) in the genus Trypocopris (=Geotrupes), probably T. pyrenaeus.  There are a number of subspecies and the distribution is Mediterranean Europe, particularly Portugal to Italy. Regards Karl.

Ana writes:  Exactly on the same spot I saw mine ahah 🙂 thank you!

Letter 5 – Earth Boring Dung Beetle

 

Rhinoceros Beetle
Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 9:28 AM
Hello Again!
Found this little guy struggling in a pool, a few months back. I assume he’s some species of Rhinoceros beetle (what else could you call it?). Fairly small – from memory, I’d say just about 1/2″ long, no larger (sorry no size reference in the photo).
Found in Santa Cruz Mountains, Los Gatos CA
Out of curiosity, is there an ideal size photo for submissions? OK if I send you a full-size 8 MB file of some critter in the future?
Cheers!
NewtHunterDave
Santa Cruz Mountains CA

Horned Dung Beetle
Earth Boring Dung Beetle

Dear NewtHunterDave,
We believe this is a Dung Beetle. Dung Beetles and Rhinoceros Beetles are both Scarab Beetles. Males in the genus Phanaeus, known as Rainbow Scarabs, have horns. BugGuide shows a species, Phanaeus amithaon, from Arizona, but we are not convinced this is your species. We also located a BioOne Online Journal posting,
Copyright © 1997 William Ericson ,on a new species from Sonora Mexico, Phanaeus yecoraensis, and the detail photos resemble your specimen as well. The horn on your specimen is quite distinctive. We will seek assistance from Eric Eaton on this identification. Regarding the image size, both the Salamander image and Dung Beetle image you sent that we posted were ideal. Since our site migration last September, our site has the option of clicking on the image to see a larger version. We post no larger than 800 pixels wide by 550 pixels high at 72 dpi, and the program selects the ideal thumbnail to display. We prefer larger images so we can crop and resize to maximize what our site offers.

Cool!
I’ll include a couple other photos of this guy from different perspectives in case that helps with the ID.
(Although, for my purposes, ‘dung beetle with a horn’ is probably close enough!)
Also, for what it’s worth, he was shiny, but I didn’t notice any sort of iridescent or metallic/rainbow effects on this beetle.  If I had, I would have tried hard to capture that in a pic.
Thanks!
NewtHunterDave

Unknown Dung Beetle with Horn
Earth Boring Dung Beetle

Update: Freom Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
Sun, 22 Mar 2009
One I actually recognize! LOL! It is one of the “earth-boring scarabs” in the family Geotrupidae. The species is Odonteus obesus. The specimen is a male. There are some nice images on Bugguide, but we could use a few more if the submitter wants to post there. Thanks.
Eric

Thanks Eric,
Since all the specimens on BugGuide are mounted, we will ask NewtHunterDave to post his beautiful live images.

Letter 6 – Earth Boring Dung Beetle

 

Please help Identify
My seven year old found this in the driveway behind a car and saved it from being squashed, so he says. He is currently looking for a new home for it, but wanted to know what it was. I sifted through pictures on the internet and found nothing. Can you help, picture attached.
david for Samuel
round rock texas

Hi Samuel and David,
This is an Earth Boring Dung Beetle in the family Geotrupidae, and the genus Bolbocerosoma. BugGuide has not gotten any submissions from Texas, but they have received images from nearby louisiana and Oklahoma. Let Samuel know that we are very excited to receive a new species to our site.

Letter 7 – Earth Boring Scarab Beetle

 

Small rounded, bobbing head beetle
September 9, 2009
My dad found this bug in our garage and showed it to me because he knows i don’t condone the killing of bugs, i took a few pics and relocated it. he (or she) never flew, but looked like a beetle that was a quarter inch long and high. it bobbed it’s head down and up quite a bit.
Thanks, joe s.
Minnesota

Earth Boring Dung Beetle
Earth Boring Scarab Beetle

Hi joe s.,
We see that by the time we had an opportunity to write back to you, you had already submitted your photo to BugGuide as well and your Earth Boring Scarab Beetle has been identified as
Bolbocerosoma bruneri.

Letter 8 – Earth Boring Dung Beetle

 

Orange and Black Mystery Beetle in TX
November 18, 2009
Found this colorful beetle tonight; size a little smaller than a dime, mostly orange with black head and markings. He was moving fast so sorry not a better photo.
11/18/09
Evelyn W.
Joshua (South Fort Worth),TX

Earth Boring Dung Beetle
Earth Boring Dung Beetle

Hi Evelyn,
Despite the rather poor quality of your photo, it is easy to identify your beetle as an Earth Boring Dung Beetle in the genus Bolbocerosoma.  Better images are available on BugGuide.

Daniel!  Thanks for the quick reply.  When I was little, many moons ago, my Mother would scotch tape creatures we couldn’t identify and mail them off to the Dept. of Agriculture.  Weeks later, if we were lucky, someone there would write back.  I wish she knew how we can do it now, online. with a digital photo and a kind reply the very next day.  Love it.
Ev

Letter 9 – Earth Boring Dung Beetle from Australia

 

Subject: Scarab rhino squeaker mystery
Location: Townsville Australia
January 9, 2017 6:46 pm
Dear bugman,
We are in northern Queensland Au (nr Townsville) and found this beautiful beetle we can’t find with online searching. It is light brown, body is a little less than 2cm long and it has a very fancy rhino like head. It squeaks like an old wind up toy I think when it feels threatened and tries to dig / nibble quickly through anything.
Signature: Holly and Jake

Earth Boring Dung Beetle

Dear Holly and Jake,
We found some really close images of Earth Boring Dung Beetles in the family Geotrupidae from Australia, but alas, those pages seem to no longer be active, yet the images still exist in the search engines.  This Csiro Entomology page is the best we are able to provide, and it states:  “Members of this family are closely related to scarab beetles but can be distinguished from the later as they have one extra segment (11 in total) on their antennae, and the last 3 segments form a distinctive circular club. They are very stoutly built beetles and range in size from 8-30 millimetres in length. Most adults are reddish-brown to brown in colour, although a few may be black. The head and pronotum of male geotrupids is often adorned with prominent horns and as such members of this species are often called rhinoceros beetles. ”  

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for identifying the beetle for us, we really appreciate it. Nice to know more about it too. Thanks again!

Letter 10 – Earth Boring Scarab Beetle

 

Subject:  Odd ladybug?
Geographic location of the bug:  North Texas – near Sanger
Date: 10/12/2017
Time: 02:56 PM EDT
My husband found this on our porch. I can’t find photos of a ladybug with those fuzzy things on its antenna. Thanks so much!
How you want your letter signed:  Nikie Cotter

Earth Boring Scarab Beetle

Dear Nikie,
This is not a Lady Beetle.  It is an Earth Boring Scarab Beetle in the family Geotrupidae, possibly in the genus
Bolbocerosoma based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 11 – Earth Boring Scarab Beetle

 

Subject:  We found a bug in the screen door and don’t know what it is
Geographic location of the bug:  Rapid city South Dakota usa, around 9:30 am during summer
Date: 08/10/2018
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Pleaseeee help me I really want to know what this is! Anything you can do to help
How you want your letter signed:  I don’t care, just please help

Earth Boring Scarab Beetle

This is an Earth Boring Scarab Beetle in the family Geotrupidae, and we have identified it as a member of the genus Bolbocerosoma thanks to BugGuide, but we cannot provide a species identification at this time. 

Letter 12 – Earth Boring Scarab from Canada

 

Subject: Beetle in pei
Location: Summerside pei Canada
June 26, 2013 4:31 pm
I found this beetle while I was working yesterday, it was roughly the size of a quarter, I live in pei Canada
Signature: Thanks

Earth Boring Scarab
Earth Boring Scarab

You are most welcome.  We believe this is an Earth Boring Scarab Beetle in the family Geotrupidae, quite possibly Geotrupes semiopacus which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 13 – Exotic Scarabs Mating

 

Bug Love Photo!
Hello!
I just have to say that I LOVE your site. I noticed you put up a “bug love” section… I have a photo to contribute. This is a photo I took of two mating beetles at the Seattle Zoo. I actually took a photo of the entire beetle exhibit, but didn’t notice THESE two going at it until after I got home and took a closer look at the photos. So I cropped the large photo down to include just the two lovers for your bug love page. However, I didn’t write down the name of the beetles from the exhibit.. and forgot what species they were.
sincerely,
brenda

Hi Brenda,
What a nice image to begin the first day of spring. We are relatively certain one of our readers will be able to provide a name for your amorous exotic Scarab Beetles.

Letter 14 – Fancy Dung Beetle

 

Possible Tick?
Location:  North Texas
September 6, 2010 9:11 pm
I live in Mckinney Texas and found this little guy crawling around my backyard. I have a Dog that was diagnosed with Erlichia when I rescued him, most likely from a deer tick. Not sure if this little guy is a tick or not. Thanks for any help.
Signature:  Regards Joe

Fancy Dung Beetle

Hi Joe,
This is not a tick.  It is a Fancy Dung Beetle,
Bolbocerosoma farctum, or another member of the genus which all look quite similar (see BugGuide).  It is one of the Earth Boring Dung Beetles in the family Geotrupidae.  It is not a threat to your dog and it may be attracted to the canine feces in your yard.

Letter 15 – Female Rainbow Scarab

 

Shiny Green Beetle
Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 2:36 PM
HI, I found this beetle outside the local elementary school. I live in far western Kansas, and the weather yesterday was in the 70s (after a weekend of rain and several weeks of 50s-60s weather). I didn’t think it was a June beetle because the back looks a little different.
Jonathan Liu
Tribune, KS

female Rainbow Scarab
female Rainbow Scarab

Hi Jonathan,
You have found a female Rainbow Scarab, Phanaeus vindex, a species of Dung Beetle.  The male Rainbow Scarab has a prominent horn.

Letter 16 – Female Rainbow Scarab

 

Subject: Mystery beetle
Location: Tennessee
April 14, 2016 6:02 pm
Found this beetle in early April in middle TN and can’t identify it. Any ideas?
Signature: Debra C.

Rainbow Scarab
Female Rainbow Scarab

Dear Debra,
This is a female Rainbow Scarab,
Phanaeus vindex, one of the Dung Beetles.  The male Rainbow Scarabs have a prominent horn.

Letter 17 – Female Rainbow Scarab

 

Subject: Beetle identification
Location: Plymouth MA
May 25, 2016 5:06 am
Hello. We saw this beetle in our yard and have never seen this in our area before. Do you know what this is? We live in Plymouth MA. We just found this the other day
Thank you
Signature: Marianne Benevides

Female Rainbow Scarab
Female Rainbow Scarab

Dear Marianne,
This is a female Rainbow Scarab,
Phanaeus vindex, a species of Dung Beetle.  Male Rainbow Scarabs have a prominent horn.

Letter 18 – Female Rainbow Scarab with Mites

 

Dung Beetle?
I think this is a female Rainbow Scarab, Phanaues vindex. I live in Naples, FL, the extreme SW corner of Florida. I was working outside when she flew or crashed into my forehead. The shot of her belly appears to show something, fungus, other insects, parasites…I don’t know.
Bob

Hi Bob,
You are correct, sort of. This is a female Rainbow Scarab, but the Mites are not parasites. We believe they are hitching a ride (phoresy) on the Dung Beetle as it flies to a fresh pile of dung. Dung also attracts flies and we believe the mites probably prey on Maggots, the larvae of the flies. We hope Eric Eaton can confirm this. There is a wonderful macro photo of the Mites identified as the order Mesostigmata on BugGuide.

Letter 19 – Flower Scarab from the Philippines

 

Subject: Identification of A Beetle
Location: Tropical, Philippines
July 14, 2017 9:04 am
Well I am currently in the Philippines and I came across a beetle that I havent seen before back in the US. It resembled a June Bug and immediateley made me think of a scarab. I wanted to know specifically what it was. Thanks alot!
Signature: Doesnt matter

Scarab Beetle

We believe we have identified your Flower Scarab as a member of the genus Protaetia on the Salagubang site, especially this individual that is not identified to the species level.  There are more members of the genus represented on Projects Biodiversity.

 

Letter 20 – Flower Scarabs

 

ID?
Hi, Bugman.
Can you identify the beetle in the attached photos? My dad has a bumper crop of them in his garden, about 30 miles outside of Dallas, TX. Love your site. Thanks for any wisdom you can impart. (My money’s on scarab beetle.)
amanda

Hi Amanda,
We wanted to be more specific than just a generic scarab beetle agreement, so we contacted Eric Eaton. He quickly wrote back: “Nice images. These are flower scarabs in the subfamily Cetoninae. They mimic bees, flying with the wing covers closed. This is probably Euphoria kerni, or a related species in that genus. Other possibility is Stephanucha sp., but they are apparently more northern, and also along the Atlantic coast. None of these are pests, just sometimes more abundant than usual. Eric”

Letter 21 – Glorious Scarab

 

green metallic beetle found
Location:  Northern AZ (Prescott Valley)
August 17, 2010 11:21 am
We found this bright green metallic bug on our patio…looks like some kind of beetle. I have never seen one of these here in Northern AZ before..
curious in Prescott

Glorious Scarab

Dear curious in Prescott,
You are no doubt the envy of many a collector as this aptly named Glorious Scarab,
Chrysina gloriosa, is considered by many to be North America’s most beautiful beetle, and it is much prized by collectors.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults feed on Juniper foliage.   Larvae are abundant in decaying sycamore (Platanus wrightii) logs in southeastern Arizona.

thanks for your fast reply…it really is a pretty cool looking bug thanks for the info!

Letter 22 – Earth Boring Dung Beetle, not Ox Beetle

 

What’s this Bug?
April 26, 2010
Dear Bugman,
We are trying to identify this beetle that flew by us the other night and landed close by. Never seen one like this and do they bite? Thanks.
Cordelia Lovelady
Port Aransas, Texas

Earth Boring Dung Beetle

Dear Cordelia,
This is an Ox Beetle in the genus Strategus, but there are several species in Texas and we are not certain which species you have.  You can see images of several species on BugGuide.  We believe this is a lesser male without the fully developed horns generally seen in males.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist us with the species identification.

Earth Boring Dung Beetle

Eric Eaton makes a Correction
Daniel:
This is not an “ox beetle,” but something much more interesting.  I believe it is a member of this genus:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/56753
and I really hope the person will post their image at Bugguide, too.  There is a strong chance one of the scarab experts there will recognize it.  Might be a new species for Bugguide, or even a new species to science.  These subterranean scarabs are not often seen.
Great find!
EricThanks so much for the correction Eric.  The thought of an Earth Boring Dung Beetle never crossed our mind.  There is a photo of a pair on BugGuide, indicating that this specimen is a male.

Earth Boring Dung Beetle

Authors

    by
  • 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.

  • 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.

17 thoughts on “How Fast is the Dung Beetle: Speed and Strength Unveiled”

  1. The mites are probably a species of Macrocheles (family Macrochelidae). These phoretic mites commonly ride on dung beetles. They feed primarily on nematodes and fly eggs/larvae. – Barry

    Reply
  2. Though they might not seem the most logical choice of edible insect, dung beetles [adult-stage] are avidly consumed in Thailand and possibly neighboring countries. They’re soaked in water for a period of time, then roasted, “peeled,” and devoured. I haven’t tried them yet.

    Dave
    http://www.smallstockfoods.com

    Reply
  3. Genus Trypocopris has some individuals that look similar to this little fellow. From what I’m seeing, Trypocopris pyrenaeus has been reported in Portugal and looks somewhat similar, though the photos on google don’t show colors anywhere nearly spectacular as the one in the photo here.

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  4. I think Jacob is right. Trypocopris pyraneaus seems to have a lot of color variability, but if you look for subspecies or variant coruscans, you’ll find some that look a lot like this guy. Very cool beetle.

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  5. Are these dung beetles rare? I found one — looks exactly the same — in the Los Gatos Mnts. Have good picture if interested.

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  6. Daniel , You have a beautiful Bradycinetulus ferrugineus ! They are rare as Eric said and come to lites. They are really cute and interesting little guys . Cheers ! Gene St. Denis Sierra Nevada Research

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  7. Daniel, After further review….It could also be Bradycinetulus rex . It is in Bradycinetulus for sure and They are very few seen alive ( usually dead) , and at one time they were being considered to be combined with Pleocoma . But, thankfully that idea was nixed. Cheers and God Bless ! Geno P.S. Two days ago we received an 1 inch and a half of Snow at Tahoe’s Lake Level !

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