Peter, Paul and Mary was a very popular American folk singing group in the 1960s. In 1962, they had a big hit when they recorded a song called “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the flowers gone
Long time ago?

Well, this article is not about flowers; it’s about dung beetles. Where have all the dung beetles gone? Long time passing… I have talked to many, many farmers and ranchers who say they have not seen a dung beetle since they were a kid. Where have all the dung beetles gone?

Dung beetles, along with a vast assortment of other good bugs, vanished from most farms and ranches when the use of chemical insecticides became common practice.

Deanna and I have been seeing an inordinate number of rolling dung beetles (pictured above) while on our morning and evening walks with Chico. The rollers usually work in pairs (male and female) – but not always. They roll up little balls of fresh manure and bury them in holes they have dug. The female lays a single egg in each dung ball. A dung beetle can bury 250 times its own weight every night. That’s a lot of poo!

Female horn flies have a lifespan of 25 to 30 days. In that short time period, they can deposit over 600 eggs in fresh cattle droppings. Now, multiply 600 eggs per fly times 500 or 1000 or 2000 flies per animal. That’s a lot of eggs! However, if enough dung beetles are present, they can redistribute the manure piles and the horn fly eggs will never hatch. Hooray to the lowly dung beetle!

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