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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Dung beetle


Chasing them …..playing with them….singing for them for they  can fly……and sometimes watering their underground homes……..was our daily chores when were young  boys .A daily event when at the grazing fields .Beetle make up the largest order in the whole animal kingdom, approximately 300,000 species have been discovered. Dung beetle belongs to the family scarabaeidae together with rhino beetles. In Africa there are about 2000 species of dung beetles.
Dung beetles were associated with resurrection in ancient Egypt, due to their behavior of burying dung and themselves and reemerging a couple of months later. Symbols of dung beetle were therefore placed in tombs in the belief that the deceased will be resurrected. Males carry horns, which serve the function of impressing females. The front part of the tooth is toothless; this serrated edge is used to cut out dung. The front arms are toothed and used as digging instruments.
The thorax is well developed to aid in flying and digging. Dung beetle have antennae, which are covered with sensory organs, these are fanned out are used by beetle to smell the air for dung. The mount parts are highly adapted to feeding on dung, they act like a filtering brush when feeding, discarding the unwanted bits. The hind legs are bowed and longer for ball rolling.Males usually initiate ball rolling in the ball rolling type. After cutting the ball away, he moves away from the pile of dung and secrets a pheromone to attract the female.

Once a female have been attracted by the scent ,she will make some adjustments to the dung ball and then either follow the  follow the male, or perch on top of the ball.  In doing so the female, conserves much needed energy for the brood stage .a suitable site is located, often under a bush and the dung ball is buried. At this stage, mating takes places over a period of two to three days. The male then abandons the brood and then returns to normal activities. The females takes the ball apart and removes the sticks ,stones ,etc and rebuilds it, leaving  a chimney in the top of the ball vents for the larvae, which digs down into the ball and breathe through  the event .larvae emerges and remain  in the dung ball for four to five months until the dung beetle finally emerges.
The female’s feeds on fungus growing on the dung ball, this serves to clean the ball. The larvae do not defecate in the ball, they store their feaces in a fermentation chamber and use the fermented dung to plaster their ball as it begins to show signs of weakness.Next time when you go for a safari in kenya savannah remember to have a look at them.

Join us in the next episode as we share more about these beautiful creature....for now 'Kwaheri".....bye bye

JBA- Safari in Kenya