Bug of the week: Aphodius rufipes

Slide6I mean, at some point it was just inevitable that I included a dung beetle right? If you’ve had a look through my site, you’ll realise I have a particular interest in dung beetles. They are the group of insects I am working on during my PhD, so it’s safe to assume that I think about dung beetles quite a bit. This beetle is a very common, nocturnal species which I have used in several of my experiments. Despite a large range, and being very abundant there is a lot we don’t know about this species. What is particularly peculiar about this species is that it uses such different life history strategies: it can either lay eggs in the soil, in the dung, or even dig tunnels underneath a bit of dung and ‘sculpt’ tiny little dung balls where in each a single egg will be laid. Alternatively, it can even become a renegade – stealing the hard work of a Geotrupes spiniger – a different tunnelling species. When it detects a large tunnel, this species follows it down – kills the competitors larvae, and lays it’s own egg in the brood chamber. Why does this happen? How often does this happen? What makes a particular individual adopt one strategy over another? Nobody is really sure.

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