They may be small and have a penchant for poo, but the dung beetle is one of nature’s greatest recyclers. By burying dung, and creating tunnels that lead to it, dung beetles help to aerate the soil; increasing water infiltration and reducing greenhouse gases. It may sound like dirty work, but dung beetles are a vital part of maintaining healthy soils and pastures – and farmers love them!
Every day two billion cow pats are dropped on Australian soil, not to mention all the dung from other animals! With all this dung lying around it is important it is broken down. If dung is not eaten or buried by dung beetles, it can cause significant problems to our environment. When it rains, unburied dung can wash out of paddocks and into rivers that we use for our drinking water and other fun things like swimming. Unburied, dung also provides a breeding place for parasites creating a health risk for stock.
Surprisingly, the dung beetle is the world’s strongest animal with the capacity to pull a ball of dung 1,141 times its own body weight! That’s the equivalent to a human dragging six full double-decker buses along a road.
It’s not hard to see why dung beetles are such fascinating creatures. If your Junior Landcare group is interested in starting its own dung beetle project get in touch with your local Landcare group.