As I contemplate a magnificent paperweight of a dung beetle rolling its precious ball of manure, a gift from my South African uncle, I am taken back to his last visit and our conversation about this useful insect. Dung beetles are a type of scarab (family Scarabaeidae), and were regarded as sacred by the ancient Egyptians, who perceived in the insects’ efforts a symbol of the sun crossing the sky. Our modern-day appreciation of the dung beetle is more prosaic; because it efficiently rolls up and buries balls of manure (on which it lays its eggs), it has been imported to control flies in rangelands and pastures in California and throughout the southern states.
Tanaops longiceps, a member of the Soft-winged Flower Beetle family. Illustration: Craig Latker
It may surprise you to learn that over one fifth of all the living species on earth are beetles. In my work, I have often shared a well-known bit of entomological trivia: there are more beetle species than any other animal on earth, and more weevils (family Curculionidae) than any other beetle. Imagine my surprise to learn that there are now more rove bee...
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