Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Dung beetles are nature's sewage workers, toiling in obscurity to
break down animal waste. Insect experts have long assumed that these
beetles are promiscuous decomposers, favoring no form of dung over another.
But a new study suggests that dung beetles are far choosier than they've
been given credit for, and that their choice of dung appears to be
hard-wired at birth.
The study, by French researchers, showed that dung beetles gravitate toward
cow patties, and, as a second choice, sheep droppings. As it happens, cow
dung is rich in the volatile chemicals to which the beetles are attracted.
The findings appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.