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Dung beetles - Winter Active Species


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The search for winter active species and the development of their populations is an important step to getting as much dung as possible underground. We have focussed our attention on the enigmatic Bubas bison to tackle the task of winter living in the Upper Shoalhaven.
Establishment times: It is well observed that the beetles require a good couple of years to get their numbers up. Colonies of 1000 beetles were distributed across the catchment - since B.bison reproduces only one generation a year (Goulburn Broken soil health & dung beetle project) - it will take 4-5 years to be able to discern successful establishment or otherwise.

The information below was sourced from the Dung Beetle Dictionary - available online at


Bubas bison

Length: 13 - 19 mm.


Bubas bison is native to Europe, where it occurs in Mediterranean regions. In Australia it has established in WA, SA, Vic and southern NSW.

Identifying features:

The beetle is shiny black with the small males having two horns on each side of the head. Large males have longer horns on the head and an additional pronounced horn on the pronotum. Females have two ridges on the head and a ridge on the pronotum.

The species is unlikely to be confused with any other introduced to Australia.

Additional information:

Several brood masses, each containing two eggs, one at each pole, are buried in a nest 20 – 40 cm below the dung pad. Beetles are active from autumn to late spring, with flight occurring at dusk and dawn.

b bison

Distribution of B. bison in Australia


A side view of Bubas bison

Geotrupes spiniger (below) is locally abundant and active in spring and early winter.

Geotrupes spiniger (Blue dung beetle)

Length: 20 - 25 mm.


Geotrupes spiniger occurs widely through Europe, including the British Isles. It occurs in the northern Mediterranean, in the Balkans, Ukraine and the Middle East through to the Pakistani border. In Australia it has established in Tas, Vic and southeastern NSW (see right).

Identifying features:

This is a large glossy black beetle with a metallic blue/purple surface underneath. It cannot be confused with any other introduced dung beetle currently found in Australia.

Additional information:

Geotrupes spiniger is active from early spring until early winter. Beetles fly at dusk and dawn. Nests are constructed 20 cm or more under the dung pad and comprise several brood masses each containing a single egg. Development from egg to adult varies from 6 to 12 months depending on the season.


The diagnostic blue underbelly of spiniger

Distribution of G. spiniger in Australia


A side view of Geotrupes spiniger

There is a wealth of information on dung beetles online. Landcare Australia’s Landcare Online site has a great history of dung beetles in Australia as well as a free Dung Beetle dictionary. Bernard Doubes “Introducing and managing deep tunneling dung beetles in Southern Australia is a must -as well as our very own John Feehan ‘The Farmers Friend’ who identifies and sells Dung Beetles and was preeminent in the spread and popularisation of Dung Beetles in Australia. Click to go to his SOIL CAM website. Marina Tyndale-Biscoe (also our very own) is a retired and eminent Senior Research Scientist with Australia's CSIRO Division of Entomology. She wrote has authored “Common Dung Beetles in Pastures of south-eastern Australia” which is available through the CSIRO website. The Dung Beetle Australia website has EVERYTHING else you need... Below are a series of photos from our dung beetle delivery days. 
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The shipments arrive....

Manure with no beetle activity Vs manure digested by dung beetles.... extraordinary!
Bubous bison into the paddocks - plenty
of dung around early in the morning so
they can get buries before the foxes come
Ian Moy’s dexters will provide the sustenance
for this shipment



Examining the activity

An example of a paddock that hasn’t seen dung beetles in a long time.. not much space left for the stock to graze without eating their own worm eggs..

Dung beetle release at Trafalgar Hill

Dung beetle (Bubas bison) released at
‘Packwood’ via Braidwood

Ian, Wayne and Marina  on a beetle hunt.



Mystery beetle - let us know if you can identify this one. A native pasture scarab Dasygnathus trituberculatus Thanks Ian!



Bubas Bison


Onthophagus binodis

Onitis pecuarius


Shiny blue Geotrupes spiniger


Gorgeous furry beetles 1 & 2.  Identified as Onthophagus leai - Thanks Ian! A native that loves wombat do-do.

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