The strongest insect in the world – the Dung beetle plays a key role in the African ecosystem, cleaning up the mess others leave behind by recycling nutrients, improving soil structure and encouraging new growth.
The strongest is the male onthophagus taurus, which can pull 1,141 times its own body weight! The equivalent of a person pulling six double-decker buses full of people.
They eat the excrement of herbivores, as it contains more plant nutrients, however the waste of omnivores is easier to find due to the smell. Dung beetles have six legs to help them dig, collect and roll dung. They’re even built like superheros, with a grooved shield and strong front limbs for digging and fighting. They also have their wings folded under hard covers for protection.
This romantic beetle is ready to fight for love. Females dig tunnels under dung pats to attract a mate. If a male enters a tunnel and finds a love rival, they will try and push each other out, with the Cephalodesmius dung beetle opting to mate for life once it finds a partner.
These intriguing creatures also make great parents. They roll dung primarily to feed their young, depositing their eggs inside, so their larvae can feast and grow. This family focus doesn’t end there. Both parents share child care duties – working together to build their nests. They then go back to work helping the African eco-system. What a hero!
5 Facts about the African dung beetle
- They are the strongest insects in the world.
- Dung beetles can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
- Dung beetles have existed for 30 million years. Fossilised dung balls the size of tennis balls have been found from Prehistoric dung beetles.
- Scientists have said they can use the Milky Way to navigate.
- There are three types of dung beetle: rollers, tunnellers and dwellers. The dwellers actually live in the dung.