Dung Beetle


Do you like dung beetles? I like watching them on Youtube as they labour over their huge pooh prizes. They're tenacious hard workers, bright and ferociously look after their young. I've never seen "ball rollers" as they don't live in the UK (too cold) but there are "dung dwellers" and "soil tunnellers".


Why do they select a find specimen of pooh to roll away? It's all part of the mating ritual as the female select their potential mate on the size of their pooh balls. The female attaches herself to the ball and the male has to roll her away from the dung pile. This is hard labour. He does a handstand and pushes the ball forward with this back legs. Sometimes he will get lost and climbs on top of the ball to determine his co-ordinates by the location of the sun, moon or Milky Way (can you do that - no me neither.) While pushing the ball away he is often forced to stop to fight another male and these fights can last for hours. Eventually the couple dig a hole in the soft sand and the female lays her eggs inside the dung ball (sealing them in with spit and her own dung). When the baby is born it eats its way out. These beetles live for 3 to 5 years. Farmers like them as they aerate the soil and allow rain to infiltrate it.


When it comes to pooh the fresher it is the better for rolling. When a beetle senses a new “drop” they run to it quickly. One scientist observed about 4000 dung beetles on a fresh pile of elephant pooh within 15 minutes of it hitting the ground. Shortly after they were joined by an additional 12,000 dung beetles.


I've tried to paint one of these beauties and here is the finished result on a small board. I can't recall ever seeing a painting of a dung beetle in any art gallery - have you? I like how the males climb up onto the ball to determine his position and I thought I'd paint one doing this - wiggling its antenna and working out which way to roll.


This painting progressed without any problems which is unusual. I've painted in some warm light colours as dung beetles live on hot savannahs. I added some shine on his shell as it looks like a sunny day. I'd prefer to keep this one for my own wall but badly need £14,000 so it yours for that amount. I walk a friend's dog called Dimples. Her owner sent me a text: "I'm out at a wedding tomorrow. Would you mind calling round to wear out my Nipples." (Predictive text - she meant "Dimples".) I was driving at the time and veered off the road and demolished someone's hot tub. It was £14,000 and I've promised to buy them a new one.