Saturday, May 21, 2011

Insect rolling for welfare - Dung beetle!

On walking along the one foot path in rural areas, I often find black beetles moving hurriedly with a small ball of earth. They actually rolled back the ball with their hind legs placed on it; at the same time they also walked back with their fore legs on the ground! These beetles are the Dung beetles (Orthophagus gazella, Scarab beetle, 'Piee vurutti vandu' in Tamil). The ball is nothing but bits of faeces or dung of cattle rolled into a sphere!

Recently, in April, I found one such beetle moving on. Suddenly another beetle of its kind came and alighted near it - is it for helping it in its task? No, it is for robbing that ball! In monsoon's night, I have also seen a lot of these beetles falling down, after hitting on the fluorescent lamps.

Dung beetles live in farm lands and grasslands. They live on dung and get all the nutrients from it. They have good sense of smell; so, they search for and detect dung easily; they make it into a ball and roll it avoiding all the obstacles they come across behind them! Then they bury the ball underground digging all the way down; the male and the female mate; the female lays eggs inside the dung ball making it a brooding ball. The larvae hatch out and eat the nutrients to develop into adult beetles. These beetles save the cattle by scavenging and burying the dung, as this prevents the attack by dung-breeding fleas.
The dung beetle we have seen here is a wonder insect that is also a farmers' friend as earthworm is!

1 comment:

Emma Springfield said...

Many people underestimate the contributions made by the dung beetle. Good article.

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