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Dung Beetles in Australia

Dung Beetles in Australia

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Published by draculavanhelsing
Dung Beetles have been introduced into Australia to dispose of the huge nummbers of cow pats littering the countryside.
Dung Beetles have been introduced into Australia to dispose of the huge nummbers of cow pats littering the countryside.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on May 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/14/2010

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Goulburn Broken Soil Health & Dung Beetle ProjectApril 2008/B.Lobert13 hrs later, completelyshredded (Taurus & Fulvus)Soil from tunnels arounddung pad; $1 coin (Bison)Holes in the pad (Bison)Tunnels under the pad;$1 coin (Bison)Pad tunnelling (Australis)
Dung Beetles
Identification Guide
&
General information
What is a dung beetle?
Beetles that are found in dung pads, that feed mostly on dungand bury dung in underground tunnels, are called dung beetles.Dung beetles belong to the scarab family of beetles. There areperhaps 4,500 species worldwide, with most found in Africawhere they have evolved with a wide range of herbivores,including large species such as buffalo and elephants. There areapproximately 400 native dung beetle species in Australia,several species making a useful contribution to the burial of cow and horse manure.In southern Australia most dung beetles dig tunnels under thepad to bury dung and lay eggs, where the beetle larvae thendevelop. This tunnelling and dung burial habit makes dungbeetles among the most important insects in our grazing lands.
 Dung beetles are a necessary part of our grazing lands
Southern Australia has about 17 species of introduced dungbeetle, though only a few are widespread; most districts haveonly one or two species. The Goulburn Broken Dung Beetle
Project will assist farmers to introduce several hundred „starter 
-
colonies‟, of six to eight „new‟ types of dung beetle, into our 
catchment over the next three years.
How can I tell if I have dung beetles?
For example:
Before
 
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Goulburn Broken Soil Health & Dung Beetle ProjectApril 2008/B.Lobert2
Dung Beetle Names
 
In this booklet we refer to dung beetles by the common nameslisted below:Common Name Scientific NameTaurus
Onthophagus taurus
 Binodis
O. binodis
 Australis
O. australis
 Fulvus
 Euoniticellus fulvus
 Intermedius
 E. intermedius
 Africanus
 E. africanus
 Spiniger
Geotrupes spiniger 
 Aygulus
Onitis aygulus
 Caffer
O. caffer 
Bison
Bubas bison
Dung Beetles
 – 
Beneficial Insects
 
Dung beetle activity serves to:Increase soil fertility by-burying dung (nutrients & organic matter) in the plantroot zonecreating tunnels in the soil both when burying dung andon emergence of new beetlesincreasing soil aeration and water infiltrationReduce pasture foulingBy removing pads from pastureReduce water contamination and algal bloomsBy reducing nutrient run off into dams, streams andwaterwaysReduce bush fly numbersBy rapid burial of dung pads removing the fly breedinghabitat or by reducing the water content of the dungso that larval incubation does not occurReduce parasite loadsBy drying the dung pad out more quickly andinterrupting the life cycle of the parasite.
Dung Beetle Life Cy
 
cle
Dung beetle activity
Each type of dung beetle is active for only part of the year.During this time males and females of the same species pair-up, dig tunnels, bury dung and the female lays eggs. Mostspecies are active during the warmer months, fromNovember to March, though Bison is an important winter-active species. There are a number of things that propertymanagers can do to increase dung beetle activity.1.
 
Strategic use of chemicals. If possible, try to usechemicals which have low impact on beetle populations(see below) and use only as necessary and at times of theyear when dung beetle numbers are low.2.
 
Avoid feeding large amounts of grain to cattle. Dungfrom grain-fed cattle is very attractive to cockatoos. Theirforaging breaks up the pad, spreading the dung andallowing it to dry out more quickly in summer.
 
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Goulburn Broken Soil Health & Dung Beetle ProjectApril 2008/B.Lobert3
3.
 
Good quality pasture produces good quality dung (highermoisture and nitrogen content). Manage pastures to improvedung quality - if your cattle are on high quality feed, it willgenerally result in higher rates of egg production by dungbeetles and higher population levels.4.
 
Increase the number of dung beetle species on your farm, sothat their activity is spread over more of the year.
Dung Beetle Activity PeriodsDung Beetle Activity period
 – 
approximate*
Africanus
 
Summer-active (Sept-Apr) little info available.
Alexis
Summer-active, little known.
Australis
 
Sept-Nov & April-May.
Aygulus
 
Summer-active, from early Summer intoAutumn.
Binodis
 
Summer-active, may be active from earlySpring to early winter.
Bison
 
May-Sept may become temporarily inactiveduring extended dry/mild winter weather.
Caffer
 
Summer-active, little known.
Fulvus
 
Nov-March finishes earlier if very hot and dry.
Gazella
Summer-active, may be active from earlySpring to early winter.
Intermedius
 
Summer-active (Oct-Apr), but can work intoautumn if conditions are mild.
Pallipes
Summer-active, little known.
Pecuarius
Summer-active, Dec-Apr little known.
Spiniger
 
Dec-April (occasionally to June).
Taurus
 
Oct-March finishes earlier if very hot and dry.*Information courtesy of Soilcam/John Feehan
Are Drenches Harmful to Dung Beetles?
 Many
are, some aren’t 
 
 – 
 
CHOOSE
 
CAREFULLY 
!
The Natural Heritage Trust and AGFORCE (Qld) haveproduced two useful guides to the use of parasiticides:
„Consider your dung beetles when using parasiticides‟
and
„Strategic use of 
 
 parasiticides can help your dung beetles‟
.These pamphlets are available from the Goulburn BrokenDung Beetle Project on request
, or from the „Victorian Dung
Beetle e-
Forum‟ website.
 There is one drench product on the market, Cydectin
*
, thatmakes the legal claim (on the product label)
that it “
has noadverse impact on dung beetles or dung beetle populations
”.
 Farmers wanting to minimize the negative effects of drenches on dung beetles and other dung fauna shouldconsult a technical expert on this subject.
*
Registered trademark of Fort Dodge
What about fertilizers & mineral additives?
Mineral fertilizers are not toxic to dung beetles. Dung beetlesare plentiful on many farms that regularly spreadsuperphosphate and lime. Dung beetles spend most of theirtime in dung, or underground, and are unlikely to come intodirect contact with such inputs. Over time, increasedtunnelling and dung burial will improve soil health andquality, reducing the need for off-farm inputs.
What about beetle predators?
Many predators will eat dung beetles, given the chance, eg.ibis, ravens, magpies and foxes. Generally, predation is onlya concern immediately after release of starter colonies, soyou might want to discourage flocks of insectivorous birdsfrom feeding in your paddocks in the first day or twofollowing releases. Once dung beetles are established andpresent in their thousands and millions, predation is unlikelyto have a major impact on beetle numbers.
 
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