01 December 2008

Ecological day - Flightless dung beetles

Dung Beetles are found all over South African and perform a vital cleaning up job, even if they do not realise it themselves. Not exactly a job I would like, but then I was not born into it.



The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle only occurs in the Eastern Cape Province, in a small area, but it is fairly common within it's range. This terrestrial invertebrate occurs in habitats such as the Fish River scrub and Spekboomveld. They often congregate in 100's in the Addo Elephant National Park, which is the best place to see these special beetles.

The dung beetle is a member of the families Bolboceratidae and Scarabaeidae.

It is quite common within it's very restricted distribution and range, mostly in the main game area of the Addo Elephant National Park, but it also occurs in the rest of the Greater Addo National Park.

The dung beetle has right of way on the roads, but are often driven over by careless motorists.


The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle adults gather at African Elephant dung for feeding and at Cape Buffalo dung for feeding and breeding.


These insects shape the dung into large round balls, which are then rolled away to be buried. See Port Elizabeth Daily Photo for more pics.




The dung beetles only nest once a year and in this time period they produce only one young beetle. Their conservation status is vulnerable as they depend on 2 large herbivores for survival: Elephant and Buffalo, of which there are fortunately plenty in the Addo Elephant National Park.



For more on Ecological Day visit Sonia at Leaves of Grass.

23 comments:

willow said...

Ha! I love the sign. They look huge! Exactly how big are they?

Max-e said...

Hi Willow, the big guys are probably the size of a golf ball - slightly elongated. But others are a lot smaller.

sonia a. mascaro said...

Great post, Max! Very interesting information and beautiful photos! I saw many years ago on TV a documentary about those Dung Beetles. Just amazing that the dung beetle has right of way on the roads.

Thanks for join us on Ecological Day!

guild-rez said...

Thank you for this very interesting post. I had no idea that dung beatles are so big.
- Cheers from Canada.

Firefly said...

These little guys are as important in Addo Park as the elephants and other big animals are. I just do't think people realise it. Great photos of the beetles. Specially the first close-up one.

KOSTAS said...

Marvellous post with full information and beautiful pictures!

Rachel said...

Well now this was most interesting!! I never knew they got so big either! Amazing!

Paz said...

As usual, interesting post! Thank you.

Paz

jack said...

Wow! Really awesome post! :)

Jony said...

Sign is Awesome!

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Jen Price said...

It's fun to see all the African animals! I live in the Mpumulanga region right near Kruger National Park so I can identify with the beauty of Africa.

Poks said...

Not to be a pain, but I believe that they are in the Scarabaeidae and not Bolboceratidae according to the current phylogenies. This may change as these phylogenies are not quite hammered out, but they can't be both. Also, I would say that they are far more important of a keystone species than the cherismatic megafauna (elephants) as, like all dung beetles, they are ecosystem engineers that shape the habitat. Good post though.

Poks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy said...

Okay, I never thought I would say that a beetle is "cute" but this one really is! I wish my little boy could see one of these in person. He would love it! We were privileged to be able to see a traveling museum installation of many exotic live bugs but the dung beetle was not among them, I'm sorry to say.

Parka said...

Nice blog. It's like National Geographic, in a way. I learnt about dung beetles today. Nice.

Missy said...

Wow, those are some cool beetles.

natalie said...

wow! I've just never ever herd of the dung beetle! thanks!
natalie
right of way really?
wow

weblinkx said...

Did you know that dung beetles are using their collected dung to attract their love mate? The bigger the dung the better the partner! have a nice day!

Anna said...

MAx-e these beatles almost look not real, lol. BTW love the elephant photos.....Anna :)

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