Tumbling Tumblebugs

It’s oddly not hot here in southeastern Texas. It’s even odder that I would say it’s not hot. The temperature is running mid to upper 90’s every day. But in contrast to most of the country, that’s practically chilly.

We slid about 20 feet and started a second hole last week. We’ve been in the same spot for so long, home construction is beginning to take place on our front lawn. In all of the time I’ve been in Texas, I still haven’t seen a Tumbling Tumbleweed but we do have quite a number of Tumbling Tumblebugs.

They tumble on our pretend grass carpet. The above photo and the following facts are taken from an article by Howard Garret, The Dirt Doctor.

Tumblebugs roll manure into balls as large or larger than themselves. Female adults lay eggs in the balls and bury them to supply food for the larvae. Some adults dig burrows below the dung piles. Most dung beetles roll the dung in balls some distance from the piles.

It took this Tumblebug a little while to find its target to tumble.

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A single egg is laid in each dung ball. The larvae hatch and feed on the manure. The male helps in preparing the nest for the larvae. This is the only known case among insects where the male aids in providing for the young.

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You know, fathers just have a way of putting everything together. ~ Erika Cosby

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The dung beetles aren’t burying the poop as a favor to us and the cows. They are storing it for food and to provide a place for their eggs to hatch to be food for their larvae.

This completely dismantles the widely held theory of altruistic beetles. Ours got off to such a promising start and then got side tracked.

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The ancient Egyptians worshiped them. The “sacred scarab” can still be found in Egypt and surrounding countries. To the Egyptians, ball rolling symbolized the daily movement of the sun. The tomb of King (Tutankhamen) contained a pendant depicting the sun-god Ra as a scarab beetle rolling the sun across the sky. We don’t need to worship these lowly poop rollers, but they are magnificent creatures deserving of our respect.

Well, alrighty then…

Back to our Tumblebugs. This one came back but just couldn’t seem to quite hit it’s stride.

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I have a little garden That I’m cultivating lard in, As the things I eat are rather tough and dry: For I live on toasted lizards, Prickly pears, and parrot gizzards, And I’m really very fond of beetle-pie. ~ Charles Edward Carryl

Mr Carryl’s Robinson Crusoe would find no shortage of lizards and prickly pears here. He might have to substitute buzzards for parrots. As for the beetle pie, he’d do well to remember¬†Minny and The Terrible Awful!