Dung Beetle Report for AGM 2018

Last year we, in the Mitta Valley were very fortunate to have been chosen by Bernard Doube as the only site fir releases of the new spring active dung beetle Onthophagus vacca in Victoria – Bernard personally delivered these from South Australia and held a field day at John and Judy Paterson’s property at Noorongong, where one colony of 1000 beetles was released into the field. A further 400 beetles were divided and are being raised in tents on 3 different properties. These are due to hatch very soon and we are waiting expectantly to see the results.

It is now 9 years since the two winter-active dung beetles, spiniger and bison, were released in the Mitta Valley, and Belinda Pearce (co-ordinator or the “Do it with Dung” project) and Judy Cardwell decided it was high-time we carried out a survey to see how successful the spread and survival of the beetles has been.

To this end, a Field Day and Identification workshop was held on the 20.5.18, starting at Judy and Alec Cardwell’s place, where about 25 people gathered together to learn how to identify winter-active beetles in the field. We then moved things on to the Mitta Muster rooms where Belinda Pearce aided in creating an informative day on the importance, care and identification of dung beetles.

Following the day, 16 people, from one end of the valley to the other, volunteered as monitors and are setting fortnightly traps, and recording their findings until the end of 2018. This will give us all a good idea of how well the winter-active beetles have adapted to our valley, and how far they have spread from their release sites. Once the data has been collected, it will be uploaded to a website called the Atlas of Living Australia.

The interest shown by Mitta Valley Landcare in doing this monitoring has triggered a lot of interest elsewhere – other groups are now going to follow suit.

Although it is a little too early to jump to conclusions, the results so far are very encouraging – on almost every property where releases took place, including neighbouring farms, earth castings can be seen where the beetles are burying the dung.

In time, we hope they will be as numerous and beneficial as the summer-active beetles.


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