The autumn rains have arrived and with them come the active Dung beetles. Farmers participating in our “Building (Dung) Beetle Highways” project have been sending in their samples and although it’s only early days yet, our species list is growing.
Adding to the Onitis aygulus and Euoniticellus pallipes found in Jennacubbin last month, we now have Bubas bison and Onitis alexis making an appearance in Gabbin. Of the seven species expected to be found in the Wheatbelt in autumn, so far we have four. Interestingly, so far we have found only females.
Identifying beetles is perhaps surprisingly difficult business. Some, like the Copris hispanis, sport a very distinctive horn but most don’t give away their identity so easily. Magnification, excellent lighting and precision tools are essential armoury should you wish to identify one. If you’d like help identifying one, you can find a list of them here.
Although we’ve had success in trapping, we’ve also had multiple reports of traps left empty and even on the same farm, out of two traps, only one sometimes yields the results. Our early findings are therefore supporting what we already suspected, that in the Wheatbelt’s, Dung beetle populations are patchy and not well distributed.
More results will need to come in to gain a full conclusion but this information is proving vital if we are to succeed in building “beetle highways” to allow species to naturally move out across the landscape, taking all their soil health benefits along with them.
This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.