06 January 2009

Metallic green dung beetle on a winter day


This beetle was brought out by the rather warm temperatures (almost 20 °C/68 °F) we had back on 28 December (last year). Now, what's wrong with the last sentence? The temperature can be low or high, but there is no such thing as a warm, hot or cold temperature. Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of the molecules making up the air or any other substance and so it can't be associated with a feeling such as warmth or cold.

After that digression, we return to the beetle in the photo, which has been identified by the good folks at BugGuide.net as Geotrupes splendidus, a dung beetle. In The Common Insects of North America, Swan and Papp (1972) write:
It constructs brood cells of cow dung; in the Southeast egg laying takes place in January, pupation in May.
There were no cows where I found this individual. It obviously uses the dung of other animals and appears to be active on warm days during the winter even in Maryland.


beetlesinthebush said...

There are several species in this genus in the eastern U.S. Similar to your experience, I've found them primarily on mild winter days - but I actually look for the critters by stirring through horse poop (with a stick) that I encounter on hiking trails. Their beauty is suitably ironic given their disgusting haunts.


Thanks for the tip. I may try it.