Dung beetles- Who's eating our dung?

Dung beetles are small insects that live in every continent except Antarctica. They live for hunting down the freshest poo that they can consume. These little critters do so much for the environment as they act as a natural recycling source, breaking down lots of animal dung that otherwise would cover the land and make it hard for grass and plants to grow.

why are we interested in finding them on our farm?

Dung beetles are a farmer's best friend as they bring multiple benefits that can help us understand the health of our fields. 


They are also useful in other aspects of a farmers life here are a few examples:

  • They help to break down cow dung - they feed on the liquid in the poo which is nutrient rich, and this then allows the poo to dry out and break down faster. 
  • They help to prevent parasite outbreaks and disease – because the dung beetles dehydrate the cow dung this leaves an environment in which parasite eggs are unable to hatch easily and even when they do, they can't get out of the poo because it's just dry matter so they can’t reproduce. 
  • They keep the soil healthy - they take down the nutrients left behind from what the cows can’t digest into the soil, creating a nutrient rich soil which can aid in grass/plant growth that the cows can then feed on. 
  • They reduce the number of flies and bad smells – because the numbers of cow pats are being reduced it means that less flies are attracted to the filed and it also reduces the smell of the poo to build as the number of pats left is being reduced. 

They also act as bioindicators and can show us how healthy our land is too.


To find out more you can watch this video or visit the dungbeetlesforfarmers website.

what will we be researching?

Dung beetles play a crucial role in field and livestock health so it is important that we know we have the right sized colony for the number of animals we have.


This will mean we have the right number to break down the amount of cow dung that is in our fields.


Led by Amelia Gibson, our Biodiversity Project Assistant, We will be determine our dung beetle populations at different sites across the farmland and investigate which factors might be affecting the  dung beetle population. We will then decide whether we need to increase our population (both in size and diversity) and determine the best method to do this.


All of this data will be recorded and put in easy accessible spreadsheet so it can be constantly updated.


By doing this we can monitor changes and look at how things have changed on the farm with time.


We will be working with the Cumbrian Biodiversity Data Centre to document our findings.


If you'd like to take part then join our Citizen Science Project and help us find out 'Who's eating our dung?'