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Bousier, Anoplotrupes stercorosus © Bernie Kohl

The Dung Beetle

Dung beetles are coprophagous coleoptera who feed almost exclusively on excrement and birth residues.

Souvenirs entomologiques

“It is no light matter to attribute to an Insect a really astonishing grasp of a situation, combined with an even more amazing power of communication between Individuals of the same species. [...]. That is why I insist on my point. What? Are we to believe that a Beetle in distress will conceive the idea of going in quest of help? We are to imagine him flying off and scouring the country to find fellow-workers on some patch of dung; when he has found them, we are to suppose that he addresses them, in some sort of pantomime, by gestures with his antennae more particularly, in some such words as these:
‘I say, you fellows, my load's upset in a hole over there; come and help me get it out. I'll do as much for you one day!’And we are to believe that his comrades understand! And, more incredible still, that they straightway leave their work, the pellet which they have just begun, the beloved pill exposed to the cupidity of others and certain to be filched in their absence, and go to the help of the suppliant! I am profoundly incredulous of such unselfishness; and my in- credulity is confirmed by what I have witnessed for years and years, not in glass-cases but in the very places where the Scarab works. Apart from its maternal solicitude, in which respect it is nearly always admirable, the insect cares for nothing but itself, unless it lives in societies, like the Hive-bees, the Ants and the rest.”

Souvenirs entomologiques, Jean-Henri Fabre, 1879, 1st series, Chap. 1

Dung beetles © BNF

Find out more about this species

Dung beetles are coprophagous coleoptera who feed almost exclusively on excrement and birth residues. The sub-family Scarabaeinae, which includes more than 5,050 species, is sometimes popularly known as “true dung beetles.” But there are dung beetles in other families, such as the Geotrupidae.

More information about the Dung Beetle on the Inventaire national du patrimoine naturel (INPN) site:
Geotrupes stercorarius (Linnaeus, 1758)

The mission of the INPN is to catalogue the environmental, faunal, floral, geological, mineralogical and paleontological wealth on France’s national territory, an inventory for which the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle has scientific responsibility:

Also discover the Museum’s collections:

Bousier / Geotrupes stercorarius (Linnaeus, 1758) @ INPN - Serge Peslier