dung beetle

dung beetle
any of various scarab beetles that feed on or breed in dung.
[1625-35]

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Any member of one subfamily (Scarabaeinae) of scarab beetles, which shapes manure into a ball (sometimes as large as an apple) with its scooperlike head and paddle-shaped antennae.

They vary from 0.2 to more than 1 in. (5–30 mm) long. In early summer it buries itself and the ball and feeds on it. Later in the season the female deposits eggs in dung balls, on which the larvae will later feed. They are usually round with short wing covers (elytra) that expose the end of the abdomen. They can eat more than their own weight in 24 hours and are considered helpful because they hasten the conversion of manure to substances usable by other organisms.

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insect
also called  Dung Chafer,  or  Tumblebug,  
 any of a group of beetles in the family Scarabaeidae (insect order Coleoptera) that forms manure into a ball using its scooper-like head and paddle-shaped antennae. In some species, the ball of manure can be as large as an apple. In the early part of the summer the dung beetle buries itself and the ball and feeds on it. Later in the season the female deposits eggs in balls of dung, on which the larvae will later feed.

      Dung beetles are usually round with short wing covers (elytra) that expose the end of the abdomen. They vary in size from 5 to 30 mm (0.2 to more than 1 inch) and are usually dark in colour, although some have a metallic lustre. In many species, there is a long, curved horn on the top of the male's head. Dung beetles can eat more than their own weight in 24 hours and are considered helpful to humans because they speed up the process of converting manure to substances usable by other organisms.

      The sacred scarab of ancient Egypt (Scarabaeus sacer), found in many paintings and jewelry, is a dung beetle. Egyptian cosmogony includes the scarab beetle rolling its ball of dung with the ball representing the Earth and the beetle the Sun. The six legs, each with five segments (total 30), represent the 30 days of each month (actually, this species has only four segments per leg, but closely related ones do have five). An interesting member of this subfamily is the Australian Macrocopris symbioticus, which lives in the anus of the wallaby. The Indian scarabs Heliocopris and certain Catharsius species make very large manure balls and cover them with a layer of clay, which becomes so hard when dry that the balls were once thought to be old stone cannonballs.

      Members of other scarab subfamilies (Aphodiinae and Geotrupinae) are also called dung beetles. However, instead of forming balls, they excavate a chamber under a pile of dung that is used during feeding or for depositing eggs. The aphodian dung beetle is small (4 to 6 mm, or about 1/5 inch) and usually black with yellow wing covers. The earth-boring dung beetle (e.g., Geotrupes) is about 14 to 20 mm (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch) long and brown or black in colour. Geotrupes stercorarius, known as the dor beetle, is a common European dung beetle.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • dung beetle — n. any of various scarab beetles that breed in dung and feed on it …   English World dictionary

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  • dung-beetle — dungˈ beeˈtle noun 1. The dor beetle 2. A scarabaeid beetle generally • • • Main Entry: ↑dung …   Useful english dictionary

  • dung beetle — dung′ bee tle n. ent any of various scarab beetles that feed on or breed in dung • Etymology: 1625–35 …   From formal English to slang

  • dung beetle — /ˈdʌŋ bitl/ (say dung beetl) noun 1. any of various scarabaeid beetles that feed upon or breed in dung, as the sacred Egyptian scarab Scarabaeus sacer. 2. any of various African beetle species introduced into Australia in pastoral and urban areas …  

  • dung beetle — noun Date: circa 1634 a beetle (as a tumblebug) that rolls balls of dung in which to lay eggs and on which the larvae feed …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dung beetle — noun A type of beetle of the family Scarabaeidae noted for rolling dung into spherical balls and pushing it. Syn: dor, scarab …   Wiktionary

  • dung beetle — noun a beetle whose larvae feed on dung, especially a scarab …   English new terms dictionary

  • dung beetle — noun any of numerous beetles that roll balls of dung on which they feed and in which they lay eggs • Hypernyms: ↑scarabaeid beetle, ↑scarabaeid, ↑scarabaean • Hyponyms: ↑scarab, ↑scarabaeus, ↑Scarabaeus sacer, ↑tumblebu …   Useful english dictionary

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