Sunday, 24 December 2017

Onitis alexis ssp. septentrionalis BALTHASAR, 1942 - Dung beetle

Family: Scarabaeidae

Subfamily: Scarabaeinae

Africa and the Mediterranean. Onitis alexis is broadly distributed from Spain and Syria, southward to South Africa. It is, however, largely absent from the heavily forested areas of western Africa (Krikken, 1977).

Life history
This species inhabits savannahs, grasslands, and pastures where they are most active at dusk and dawn. Adults show a preference for the dung of large herbivorous mammals. The species is recorded feeding on elephant, cattle, and buffalo droppings (Krikken, 1977). Male-female pairs dig a dung-lined tunnel under a dung source to an average depth of 17 cm (6.7 in). The burrow is then stocked with 150–200 grams of dung, which is made into multiple sausage-like shapes. One to four eggs are deposited into each dung-sausage (Edwards and Aschenborn, 1987). The egg to adult lifecycle can be completed in as little as two months in the summer, but it may require over a year if conditions are poor. In good habitat, there can be several generations per year (Tyndale-Biscoe, 1990). Larvae cannot survive cool, wet winters (Tyndale-Biscoe, 2006).

Photos at Akrotiri, 17. June. 2016, by Michael Hadjiconstantis. 

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