Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version



Published in Museum Notes, No. 66 UNL News Vol. 59, No. 18, Jan. 11, 1980 (ISSN 0149-4163). Used by permission.


The appellation "dung beetles" refers to those scarab beetles that are usually found with animal feces either feeding on or depositing eggs in it. While this at first may seem like an incredibly unsavory topic, the fact remains that numerous creatures exist that feed on the waste products of other animals. And, as it turns out, it's a good thing they do.

The Scarabaeidae, or scarabs, is one of the larger families of beetles; it has 30,000 plus species worldwide and approximately 15,000 species in North America. (See my Museum Notes of March 1970.) The family is divided into subfamilies (based on structural distinctions) such as rhinoceros beetles, leaf chafers, dung beetles, and so on. The subfamily Scarabaeinae is commonly referred to as dung beetles, and it is about these marvelous animals that I would like to give a much needed perspective.

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