Native beetles in sheep dung

On the road with Russ

An update from DBEE’s Russ Burrow on the latest monitoring and community engagement activities.

The South West Prime Lamb Group (SWPLG) at Heywood, Victoria was the destination in March for Russ Burrow and Graeme Heath (Charles Sturt). On the road from Wagga to Heywood the team set up several flotation and pitfall traps. A variety of species were trapped at different locations.

 A pitfall trap on a prime lamb property at Heywood caught two dung beetle species, the introduced Onthophagus taurus and the native Onthophagus mniszechi.  Finding a large number of the native dung beetle O. mniszechi was interesting. This native is often dismissed as a non-dung burier. Discussions with Bindi Hunter from the SWPLG revealed that O. mniszechi can be important in this region. O. taurus is particularly abundant and plays a significant role as well.

A walk around the sheep grazing paddock showed lots of beetle activity in the fresh sheep dung. Tunnelling was visible, with soil on the surface next to the dung (Fig. 2). Tunnels were around 20 cm deep (Fig. 3).

SWPLG will continue to be active in monitoring and education with DBEE.

Figure 1: Overnight pitfall trapping with two dung beetle species,  Onthophagus taurus  (small) and the native  Onthophagus mniszechi  (large).

Figure 1: Overnight pitfall trapping with two dung beetle species, Onthophagus taurus (small) and the native Onthophagus mniszechi (large).

Figure 2: Tunnelling activity (circled) adjacent to sheep dung.

Figure 2: Tunnelling activity (circled) adjacent to sheep dung.

Figure 3: Dung being taken down a beetle tunnel.

Figure 3: Dung being taken down a beetle tunnel.

Figure 4: Dung beetle monitoring activity Wagga to Heywood (blue – flotation experiments, orange – pitfall trapping; purple - workshop location).

Figure 4: Dung beetle monitoring activity Wagga to Heywood (blue – flotation experiments, orange – pitfall trapping; purple - workshop location).

Liam O'Neill