Monday, June 17, 2019

Saga of a dung beetle mama

So what happens when Sheryl spots a dung beetle and some wild animal poop on her mother's asphalt driveway? Sheryl has to hang around, watch what unfolds and take lots of videos and photos. If you feel inclined to watch all the videos, please do so. Or don't. This beetle's behavior just fascinated me so much that I had to document as much as I could over the course of two or so hours. 

At first, I sent short videos to my daughter via Messenger on Facebook. You'll hear me talking to her. We must have arrived soon after this mama dung beetle caught a whiff (phew!) of a rather large dropping. She had quite a few adventures along the way....
Part 1
What's she thinking? Is she trying to figure out where she wants to be? Like down that drop-off?
Part 2
No progress yet...just rolling back and forth....
Part 3
Look out––over the edge!

Part 4
She begins to carve her dung ball masterpiece.

Part 5
The ball is made! I wasn't around to see her push the ball UP the driveway's steep drop-off.

Part 6
More rolling around....

Part 7
A two-minute clip with another WHOA! Then she contemplates one place near the driveway's edge to bury her dung ball.
(See next two photos below.)

I circled her in yellow. The dung pile she left is upper right corner, also marked in yellow.

 The search continues....

Part 8
My dung beetle mama considers a second location.... 
Still seaching...can you spot the dung ball?

 Ah, she's found the perfect spot!
 She begins the burying process....

Part 9
Finally she pulls the ball beneath some leaf debris. 

Part 10
She and the ball are completely hidden now.

I hung around for as long as I could, hoping I'd see her re-emerge. But alas, I had to go and attend to life stuff. According to what I've since read, this "roller" dung beetle mama likely either laid her inside the "brood" ball (which would feed the larva) or saved the ball to eat later. I'll never know for sure. And I don't want to disturb her many hours of work.

Hey, according to this post on National Geographic Kids, dung beetles are the world's strongest insect AND strongest animal! "When moving balls of dung, a roller can pull a whopping 1,141 times its own bodyweight," the post states. "That's the same as a human dragging six full double-decker busses along the road!" Wow, who knew!?

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