T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Beetle (Dung, Mexican) Copris incertus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Scarabaeidae
Subfamily: Scarabaeinae
Tribe: Coprini
Genus: Copris
Species: C. incertus
Binominal name: Copris incertus
Common name: Mexican dung beetle

Copris incertus is a tropical species of dung beetle that was deliberately introduced to New Zealand in 1956 and successfully established at Whangarei. This beetle has now spread through parts of Northland and South Kaipara regions. They are most commonly seen in February, March and April. They often fly at night and are attracted to light sources. 

The adult Copris incertus is shiny black, stout-bodied beetle (15-17mm long) with a shovel-shaped head which it uses to remove removing dung from cows dung pads. It has a distinctive, clubbed, shaped antennae composed of plates called lamellae. The male of the species has a distinctive horn like a rhinoceros.
They are ferocious eaters of dung of herbivorous mammals including cattle and sheep and can consume their own weight of dung in 24 hours. This hastens the process of the break down of the faeces to material accessible to other organisms and plants. The burying of dung also reduces the area of pasture smothered by dung, reduces parasitic worm load on pasture and reduces faecal pollution of waterways. 

Copris incertus excavates brood chambers underground in which the female makes spherical brood balls of dung in which the grubs develop and later feed on. The beetle’s presence can be detected by large soil casts.

Photo of a male beetle
  

A lifecycle of a dung beetle (Modified from Bornemissza 1976) 


A video on the benefits of Dung Beetles to farming.
Dung Beetles are fascinating insects, working tirelessly to bury dung around the country. As soon as you begin to understand the importance of these little creatures as one of nature’s greatest recyclers, you will never look at a pile of dung the same way..
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