With shovel in hand, I dug deep in the alpaca pasture yesterday, were I saw any obvious beetle holes thinking it would be their current habitat. Unfortunately, all sites were abandoned. So, I waited until I found fresh soil sitting like an ant hill by one of the holes and started to dig. What an amazing find. I’m sure dung beetles have been a part of this Carolina landscape for quite a while. There are huge deer populations in this area, and it is herbivore feces they crave. It wasn’t until I started poop scooping that I notice the evidence of their existence, but never once have I been able to get a glimpse of one. Dung beetles are nocturnal. They live in the underworld during the day and only come out to play at night.
There are also three types—rollers, dwellers and tunnelers. The little guy I discovered is a rollers. I figured, since alpaca poop came in nice little bean size packages, they could save themselves the trouble of rolling. No, they continue to roll until they have a “bigger than a golf ball” size package for them to feast on at a later time and feed their babies. You won’t find much research on dung beetles and their relationship with an alpaca farm. Research has only been done with beef, dairy and swine. However, I can tell you, these little jewels aerate the soil, help to decompose at a much faster rate, and add nutrients deep into the soil.
Since I have rollers, I don’t have to worry that I might damage their habitat when raking or vacuuming the pasture. If you have dwellers, you wouldn’t want to disturb those areas. Also, of great interest to me is, Ivomectin, the drug most alpaca farmers use to worm monthly as a preventative against Meningeal worm, will kill an dung beetle dead! I plan to keep the environment around this farm free of pesticides, so they can prosper.
The scientific name of this beetle shown here, will remain nameless until I know for sure what he is. I posted on Instagram saying he was Dichotomius Carolinus because of his prominent striations. Sorry for the misinformation. Come to find out, D. Carolinus is not a rollers…so, back to the drawing board. Anyone care to make a more intelligent guess? I’m leaning toward Geotrupes blackburnii.