Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ENV: Carnivorous Dung Beetles

from TP&WD Entomologist Mike Quinn:
Carnivorous dung beetle shuns dung and decapitates millipedes
Posted on: January 21, 2009 8:30 AM, by Ed Yong


Trond Larsen from Princeton University discovered D.valgum's unusual
diet by baiting several pit-traps with all sorts of potential snacks,
from dung to fruit to millipedes, both dead or alive. Over a span of
11 months, the traps lured in over 100,000 individual dung beetles.
Thirty-five species would scavenge on dead millipedes, but only five
tackled live ones. And out of these, only D.valgum ignored all other
foods - it only cared for traps baited with live millipedes.

By making small nicks in the millipedes' shells, Larsen showed that
D.valgum is an opportunistic hunter, and was over 60 times more likely
to attack injured prey than healthy ones. Even so, the beetles were
more than happy to tackle millipedes up to 14 times their size and
they would fight each other over potential kills.


more links:

Dung beetles are evolving into vicious carnivores, scientists find, United Kingdom - Jan 21, 2009
Humble dung beetles are evolving into carnivores, according to a study
which found them attacking and eating millipedes 10 times their

Little beetle is big chopper
BBC News, UK - Jan 20, 2009
By James Morgan It was rooted at the rear end of the food chain, but
now the humble dung beetle is biting back. A ferocious scarab species
has been filmed ...

Enough of This S#%t! Dung Beetles Morph into Millipede-Eaters
Discover Magazine, NY - Jan 21, 2009
It's hard to get any respect when you eat feces. Maybe that's why one
species of lowly dung beetle has forsaken its namesake for a more
glamorous place on ...

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