Dung Beetle Nursery Network

This 12 month project (2021-22) is establishing dung beetle nurseries at 12 sites across the region in order to speed up the distribution of new dung beetle species and address seasonal gaps in the distribution of established species.

The PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Facilitator, Karen Thomas, is working with the volunteer sites (made up of Landcare and farming properties) to set up the maternity wards using special nursery kits and report progress on regional success with these new species. Monitoring will involve traps being set up at each site, with beetles being monitored via catch and release and data being shared using the MyDungBeetle Reporter app.

The project is supported by Melbourne Water, Landcare Australia, the Victorian Government (via the PPWCMA’s Landcare Coordinator), Cannibal Creek Landcare Group, Bunyip Landcare Group, Nillumbik Landcare Network and Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network.

About dung beetles

CSIRO introduced dung beetles between 1968-1992 to Australia to specifically feed on livestock dung. Twenty-three introduced species have established and spread across Australia where they feed on dung and use it as a food source for their offspring.

We now know that dung beetles provide many benefits from improved soil permeability, reduced spread of flies and parasites and improved pasture fertility when dung is buried. Pasture productivity improves and waterways are protected from nutrient loaded surface runoff.

Not much is known about the full extent and abundance of dung beetles nor what impact some management practices can have on dung beetle populations on farms. Regular cultivation, drenches and even chickens as tractors can impact dung beetle populations.

Project activities

As part of the project, the PPWCMA and Macedon Ranges Shire held a workshop in March 2021 for over 40 landholders. They learnte about identification, beetle benefits and how to redistribute species across local farms to build populations and shorten seasonal gaps if local suitable species are absent. Participants were also introduced to the MyDungBeetle Reporter app.

Additional workshops are planned for October 2021 in Red Hill, Garfield North and Steele Creek. To be notified about these sign up to the PPWCMA enews.