1. The dung beetle does what it says on the tin: it uses faeces, typically from herbivores and omnivores, for food and nest sites.

2. There are three types of dung beetle. Rollers form balls of dung that are rolled away for burial, to be used as both an egg-laying site for the female and a food source for the adults and resulting grubs; tunnellers dig down into and beneath the pile of dung, burying part of it as an underground larder; dwellers live and raise their offspring within the dung.

3. Dung beetles are very useful recyclers of nutrients. Without them, dung would cover the land and create a breeding ground for pests.

4. In the 1960s, dung beetles were introduced to Australia from Hawaii, Europe and Africa to deal with the 'dung problem' created by introduced cattle. The native beetles found the foreign dung unpalatable, leaving it to litter the landscape. Thanks to the immigrants, pasture quality improved considerably and fly outbreaks were reduced.

5. Dung beetles are incredibly strong. Studies have shown Onthphagus taurus to be the world's strongest insect after it was observed pulling 1,141 times its own bodyweight - the equivalent of a human hauling six double decker buses full of people.

6. Studies have also shown that dung beetles use the Milky Way to orientate themselves when rolling their dung balls along the ground.


Sarah McPhersonFeatures editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine