Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc Biological Solutions for Pest Management

Dung Beetles
Monitoring & Collecting

Why Dung Beetles
By rapidly burying dung pads, dung beetles reduce fly breeding sites and therefore reduce horn and face fly numbers. Dung burial also reduces the infective stages of gastrointestinal parasites of livestock. Dung beetles also clean up pastures and replace nutrients in the soil. The beetles’ tunnels result in greater water retention and less run-off and they improve root penetration and soil aeration. In addition to cattle manure they work on pig and dog manure. They are great to have for rotational grazing.


Monitor beetle activity or collect to move
By monitoring the dung beetle population on your farm you can determine if you are having any impact, either positive or negative, on the local dung beetle population. Climate has a huge impact on dung beetle populations. Most species are more active in warm moist conditions, so changes you see may relate to climatic changes, not to anything you have done.

Monitoring dung beetle populations involves assessing both dung beetle activity and the diversity of species present.


Suggested monitoring program
Monitor the dung beetle population once a month. This should be sufficient for you to understand what is happening on your property. Rate dung beetle activity as ‘none’, ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’. ‘none’ means that no activity is seen in dung pads, and ‘high’ means that most pads are rapidly dispersed. To estimate the number of each species of dung beetle present, proceed as follows: Look for dung pads 1–2 days old and preferably showing evidence of dung beetle activity, such as disturbed soil at the edge of the pad (“yesterday’s” dung is fine—this is to ensure that day-fliers and night-fliers will be present). Approach quietly, as dung beetles are sensitive to vibrations and will quickly descend down their tunnels. Shovel up two dung pads into a bucket, taking about 1 inch of soil from under the pad. Fill the bucket with water and stir well with the shovel to break up the dung. The dung beetles will float to the top—skim them off with a sieve. Stir again, skim again, and continue until you get no more beetles. You can collect more dung pads and repeat the procedure if you like. Count the number of each species of dung beetle present.


Set Up Live Capture Traps
Pitfall Trap
1. bury a quart plastic container (like yogurt) level with soil, and place a second inside so it is easy to remove
2. place a wad of sticks in container so beetles can climb above water level in case of rain
3. place 1/2 inch hardware cloth (screen) over container
4. collect fresh manure (a lump the size of a chicken egg), wrap it in a double layer of cheese cloth. The cloth prevents the manure from dropping through the hardware cloth. (you can make up several dozen of these baits at a time, freeze them, and then pull them out as needed)
5. place cow pat on top of hardware cloth
6. check every day for beetles in container

To make it easier to remove beetles, use two containers. The first container is buried in the ground as pictured. The second container sits inside the first. To empty the trap, we just remove the inside container while leaving the other buried in the ground.

Funnel Trap
1. Place hardware cloth on funnel
2. place a wad of sticks in container so beetles can climb above water level in case of rain
3. Place small end of funnel in jar
4. place cow pat on hardware cloth
5. check daily

Pig and human dung considered best for traps. Add rain shield or rodent screening as needed.

Dung Beetle Conservation
To keep the beetles you already have, avoid using chemicals that are toxic to dung beetles on your cattle. Such chemicals include most synthetic pyrethroid chemicals and some macrocyclic lactones, in particular the avermectins (abamectin) the feed through fly control materials.


Commercial Availability
Rincon-Vitova will broker sales of dung beetles, so if you are buying or selling, give us a call.

What you might expect to see:






Onthophagus depressus



estab. GA, SC, FL, released Tx

Onthophagus taurus



estab SE states, released Tx.

Onthophagus gazella

Africa, Asia


estab S states, HI.

Onitis alexis



estab CA, HI, released GA, Tx

Euoniticellus intermedius



estab CA,Tx, released GA,OK

Onthophagus bonasus



released GA, TX, OK

Gromphas lacordairei



released GA,TX

Onthaphagus nigriventris



estab HI, released GA, OK, TX

Onthophagus sagittarius

Sri Lanka


estab HI, released GA, OK, TX

Onthophagus militaris



estab HI, released GA, OK, TX

Sisyphus rubrus



released GA, OK, TX

Onthophagus binodis



released TX

Onitis vanderkelleni



released OK, TX

Copris incertus



released OK, TX

Ontherus sulcator



released GA, OK, TX

Onthophagus australis



Phanaeus difformis




Plus native species

From a survey of dung beetles in Kansas http://www.windsofkansas.com/scarabeidae.html
Coleoptera: Scarabeidae: {38 Confirmed species; 21 Probable species; 6 Possible species}
Coleoptera: Aphodiinae: {19 Confirmed species; 15 Probable species; 5 Possible species}


O. gazella has been the work horse for years, and now O. Taurus is beginning to prove itself as a tremendous worker, and will over winter in much colder climate than gazella. – Walt Davis


New South Wales Ag Dept (Australia) Primefact Number: 442

Insects In Cattle Dung, Kevin Floate, Ag Canada
Dick Richardson Texas

Dung Beetles of Central and Eastern North Carolina Cattle Pastures

Bertone Thesis on Dung Beetles of NC

Thanks to Walt Davis, Walt Davis Ranch, for information and suggestions.

Dung Beetle Field Day DVD

XXX DVD set, XXX hours

$20 plus $5 shipping by priority mail


Dung Beetle Field Day flyer

June 18, 2009, Linn, MO

dung beetle field day flyer