Australia has several hundred dung beetle species which have adapted to processing the small, dry dung of our native marsupials.
Native dung beetles are active in winter, which unfortunately, doesn’t coincide with summer breeding local flies.
When sheep, horses and cattle were introduced to Australia, native dung beetles were not well adapted to deal with these animals’ large, wet dung pats which sometimes persisted in place for more than a year and led to new or exacerbated environmental issues.
Fly populations increased because their larvae developed in the dung which led to an over-abundance in the use of pesticides to control flies.
Other environmental issues included increased disruption of the nutrient cycle and an increase in the number of dung borne pathogens. More importantly, in the context of carbon emissions, an increase in greenhouse gases (CO2 and N2O) occurred, lost from the dung as a gas into the atmosphere.
Since the 1970s CSIRO has tackled these problems by importing 23 exotic species of dung beetle adapted to process cattle and sheep dung. Twelve species have been introduced to WA with 10 types doing well along the South Coast and in the south-west.
Species found across much of the south-west include Onthophagus taurus, Onitis aygulus, Euoniticellus pallipes and Bubas bison as well as Onthophagus binodis and Euoniticellus fulvus along the lower coastal district (DAFWA).