Category Archives: Beetles

Beautiful dung beetles

Hello – have a lot to say about the dung beetles, but in response to the widespread belief that they are not attractive (given their dietary predilictions)…Here are some sketches of a few East African dung beetles – I’m sure that you will agree that they are gorgeous. And yes, all of these feed on and make use of dung. More on these remarkable creatures soon! dung-beetle-illustlr2.jpg dung-beetles-illustlr1.jpg 

Dung Beetle hard at work

Several people who look at this blog asked me why I chose the Dung Beetle as the symbol for the blog. It is also the logo for the Insect Committee of Nature Kenya – The East Africa Natural History Society… “Couldn’t you have picked a more glamorous, colourful or exciting insect?”… Several people have queried. Well, the reason for picking the ‘lowly’ dung beetle was that few creatures better symbolize the connection between insects and the survival of the planet. Hard at work day and night the dung beetles help keep soils churned and healthy, clean up the mess that mammals leave behind and disperse seeds that are in the dung. They also form close pairs and lovingly care for their young larvae. Here’s a short clip of a dung beetle using it’s specialized front legs to pack some fresh elephant dung into a juicy ball.[kml_flashembed movie=”” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]   More on these remarkable creatures soon!

Rainforest insects…

Here are some more interesting insects from Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya. Lirhanda Hill emerges from the green blanket of forest covered in lush grass and topped with gnarled protea bushes. kakamega-hillviewlr1.jpg  There are some beautiful large trees in the relatively undisturbed forest that clothes one flank of the hillside…kakamega-treelr3.jpg  Lots of different insects frequent the top of the hill. I found this colourful beetle living on a protea bush:beetle-protea-lr1.jpg  The hill is cloaked with lush grass, that is periodically cut back and used for thatching roofs. The insects living here are different from those in the forest. There are lots of beetles, like these chafers, who eat the grass pollen. As the female feeds, the male clambers on her back and mates with her. She continues feeding throughout the entire courtship and mating… scarab-mate-lr1.jpgscarab-mate-lr2.jpgThe road to the hill is a popular place for butterflies. Here are some of them mud-puddling. This behaviour is commonly engaged in by male butterflies. They are seeking dissolved salts and other minerals that seep from the edges of the puddles. In this case some colobus monkey dung provided an additional feast! On the left are some swallowtails and tiny blues and coppers, on the right are several large emperor butterflies, who are powerful canopy-dwellers who are only rarely tempted down to the ground by such delicacies…kakamega-mud-puddle-lr1.jpg   The butterflies spend a lot of time sipping at the puddles and damp dung. They sometimes have minor ‘scuffles’ and flick their wings at each other in irritation. But usually after a few minutes everyone settles down again to sipping salts…Here is a video clip of butterflies mud-puddling at Kakamega (this is my first attempt to post a video, so I hope this works!)[kml_flashembed movie=”” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]