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Dung beetles are the strongest beetles in the world, able to pull 1,141 times their own body weight.

Photo below ~ Not just because of women, it’s not unusual to fight over a dung ball! 

Scarabaeus laticollis near a nuraghe near Monte Tiscali, Sardinia, Italy. Photograph by Rafael Brix

Onthophagus taurus – or the dung beetle – may, despite their relatively small size (half an inch),  look fearsome with their horns (only the males), but they are not dangerous to people.  The males use their striking horns to fight for females.  Not all males have horns though. 

Dung beetles roll and bury a dung ball either for food or for using to contain eggs.  Sometimes the male and female roll the balls together, to a place underground where they live and breed.  The eggs hatch out into larvae which then eat their way out of the dung ball.

I was fortunate to buy a 1st edition of The Sacred Beetle and Others by J H Fabre, 1918.  The author, a French entomologist (December 22, 1823 – October 11, 1915) “lived beetles” – he passionately studied them and in doing so uncovered certain truths about them; one being that the babies were NOT rolled whilst inside the dung ball; another that the dung beetles in fact stole one anothers carefully rolled balls.  It is such a pleasure reading this book, you sense the love that Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre had for insects, and his acute honest observation of them.  Fabre was a wonderful teacher because of this.

Others again have reproached me with my style, which has not the solemnity, nay, better, the dryness of the schools. ~ J K Fabre

O T H E R   D U N G   B E E T L E   F A C T S

  • Dung beetles are found on every continent – apart from Antarctica.
  • They have a life span of three years and range in size from less than 1mm to 6cm.
  • Ancient Egyptians revered the beetle (also known as the scarab) and believed that a giant version of the insect kept the earth revolving.
  • They are usually solitary – except for the period they spend with a partner before mating.
  • Female dung beetles are the best mothers in the insect world and stay with their offspring for two months.
  • Scientists have found up to 16,000 beetles in one 1.5kg heap of elephant dung.
  • These beetles have a sensitive sense of smell.
  • Some dung beetles feed exclusively on dung, whilst others also incorporate other foods such as mushrooms, decaying leaves and fruits.
  • Daily Mail