The journey we have all been on over the last year has been a long and arduous one with many challenges. While we continue to navigate these uncertain times, perhaps we can all take some inspiration from one of nature’s hardest working creatures.
Imagine spending your days collecting and rolling large balls of poop in a never-ending job of cleaning up the environment. This is the role of one of nature’s unsung heroes – the dung beetle.
The clean-up crews of the bush, if you spend time watching them you will be amazed at how efficient and quickly they can move and disperse faeces. Dung beetles are ecologically important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, as they not only remove the majority of dung, but also destroy the eggs of internal parasites thus reducing pest populations. Dung beetles also play a role in returning nutrients to the soil as well as inadvertently germinating seeds. In return for their hard work the dung is a food source as well as breeding chambers for their larvae.
Their eggs, which are laid in the dung, hatch into larvae which eat the solid matter surrounding them. The adults generally only drink the liquid nutrient which is present in the dung. The average lifespan of a dung beetle is approximately 3 years.
Diverse in appearance, with carapaces varying in colour from glossy black to metallic green and even red, there are about 8000 different species. These are mainly broken down into 4 groups:
- Telecoprid – The most well-known group famous for rolling balls of rounded dung before laying their eggs in them and burying them.
- Endocoprid – Lay their eggs directly into a pile of dung.
- Paracoprid – Dig down below the pile of dung to lay their egg.
- Kleptocoprid – The thieves, they steal balls of dung rolled by others to lay their eggs in.
Next time you see fresh dung in nature, take time out to go check for dung beetles and spend a little time watching these tenacious and strong creatures going about their daily work, never giving up despite the mountain of poop they are often faced with.
Predominantly active in summer, dung beetles do take a rest when they hand over their cleaning job to termites. Perhaps it is this time that they look back on their achievement and build strength for the next season. This journey the world is facing is not over and it will be hard work but we all have a role to play and a responsibility. Let’s take inspiration from nature and the many creatures that inhabit it.