Saturday 21 May 2011

Saturday 21st May

Over the last few weeks and particularly whilst walking around the Glen Tilt trail I have been coming across a large number of dor beetles.  They all seem to be the same species with a purple colouration to their exoskeleton and they appear to be out in their masses at one point of the Glen Tilt trail.  I couldn’t walk more than two steps without just about standing on at least one of these beetles. 

Dor beetles are quite pretty with their shiny bodies and play a key role in cleaning up our environment.  They are dung beetles and eat their weight in dung each day.  Competition for dung is low so they have adapted well to eating a food source that should never be limited in supply.  They are normally associated with cow dung but they would have been feeding on sheep manure up Glen Tilt.  Their manoeuvring skills whilst flying are quite poor so they often crash into cattle.  These beetles can grow up to about 25 mm long and are quite big.  In fact they are one of the largest dung beetles in Britain. 

After these beetles have mated the female will dig a hole with side chambers under a selected piece of cow manure and the male will help to clear the soil.  He will then bring in balls of dung to line the tunnel and then the female will lay her eggs in each of the chambers.  This provides the larvae with food to last the first few months of their life.  The larvae will feed until they are fully grown then will pupate underground emerging as adults the following year. 

There are hundreds of species of insects and beetles in the UK and you will be surprised at just how many you can find in a small piece of deadwood or at the bottom of your garden.  Have a look and see if you can spot one that you have never seen before. 

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