Puff, pant, puff, pant… is what you are very likely to hear when any human being is asked to roll an object many times his size and weight. But I did not hear any such sounds when crouching down and observing a dung beetle roll a ball of dung! It seemed to be doing it with great ease.

It was late morning and the winter sun was sharp. We decided to rest under some large shrubs. Some shrubs lay scattered ahead of us in an otherwise open, flat terrain covered with short grass. Some movement a few feet away drew my attention. I went closer to the site of action only to find a pair of dung beetles fighting over a ball of dung they had rolled. After the fight was over, it was an amazing sight to watch the victor roll the dung ball.

The dung ball was eventually rolled away and buried in the soil. I could not see the egg being laid in the dung ball. The beetle larvae that come out of the egg will feed on the dung around it. The larva will grow up, pupate and the adult beetle that emerges will dig its way up to the surface.

Dung beetles are very important organisms in the ecosystem. They break down dung and incorporate it into the soil thereby helping recycling of nutrients. Besides, the digging tunneling activity of these beetles improves aeration of the soil.