Dung Beetles

Also known as Scarab Beetles, these little beetles consume & bury dung (manure) in the ground where they lay their eggs. Larvae hatch & then eat the dung. They aerate the soil by digging holes and with all these activities there is the added benefit of preventing flies from breeding (by breaking down the dung). All this improves nutrient cycling and soil structure.

These little fellows can also reduce parasite loads & interrupt the life cycle of some internal parasites.

In Australia we have introduced & native dung beetles. The native Dung Beetles are adapted to eat more pelleted manures (as excreted by native animals), but they will also eat introduced manures (horse/cattle etc). They are most active in the warmer months, which is when they reproduce.

So how can we help these guys work well for us and our horses?

There are concerns that chemicals can affect the beetles (for example, horse wormers). Although, this may not be such a problem as these chemicals are only excreted for 2-3 days in manure.

Dung beetles are highly active just after rain, so you may want to consider holding off worming your horses for a couple of days if worming with wormers that may affect them. Their peak emergence is in Spring. BUT don’t let that be a deterrent to worming your horses through the wet season as this is also when the worms are most active. Before worming you could also take a walk around your paddocks to gauge how active the Dung Beetles are.

If you are rotating your wormers you can avoid Mectin wormers during these periods (look at the “active ingredients” for ivermectin, abamectin or moxidectin).

Morantel, Pyrantel, Benzimidozole or anything that ends in …..zole etc appear to have no effect on dung Beetles. An even simpler way to work it out is that any wormer that affects Bots will affect Dung Beetles. We used to only worm horses with Boticides when you could see Bot Flys around.

The Benzimidozole family of wormers are also the ones that are safe to worm foals with. All this information does not mean that we should stop using Mectin or other types of wormers (we use these most of the time on our own horses). It’s just an illustration that we should be worming our horses strategically with environmental factors in mind. Don’t forget that the mectin wormers are possibly more effective against the worms and that they are also active against such parasites as Habronema and sucking lice.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please do not hesitate to email us.