One of the most fascinating sights in the bush is that of a dung beetle hard at work rolling his hard-earned ball of dung across the sand. Using his forelegs and the front of his head as scrapers, the beetle collects suitable bits of dung from a dung pad, which he compresses into a ball.
ead down, he pushes the sphere with his hind legs, travelling backwards. Occasionally, you may see two beetles with the ball, the second one assisting, walking alongside or riding on it.
The beetle then buries it in the sand, where the female inspects it, patting and kneading it until it is perfectly smooth and round. She then forms a small hollow in the ball, lays an egg and covers it with dung so that the original ball now looks like a pear.
Having left the burial chamber, the female blocks the entrance with soil and departs.
When the larva hatches, it eats away at the dung for several weeks until it is fully grown, and then pupates within the now hollow sphere. It then breaks out of the chamber and moves up to the surface.
Not all species make their nests within the dung pad itself. Many excavate a chamber in the soil below, which they stock with bits of dung shaped into compartments, each containing an egg.
This obscure form of breeding is a vital element in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem, for dung beetles are responsible for dispersing the tremendous amounts of dung deposited in the African bush every day. Not surprisingly, they are widespread through Africa.