How to sample your farm for Dung Beetles

STEP 1 - collect beetles

  • Select dung pads which have a margin of fresh soil around them
  • Approach the dung pads quietly so that the beetles do not crash dive down their tunnels
  • Use a long-handled shovel to scoop up the dung and 2cm of soil underneath the dung pad
  • Place soil, grass and dung into a bucket
  • Fill the bucket with cold water and stir gently
  • Collect beetles as they float to the surface

SHEEP VERSUS COW DUNG... please note, the Mudgee district does not yet have any known sheep dung beetles! Feel free to use the above methodology to see if you can find any sheep dung beetles, however the main beetles known in our area are those that bury cattle dung.

STEP 2 - prepare the beetles for postage!

  • Kill the beetles in hot water
  • Dry beetles for two days on newspaper (out of direct sunlight)
  • Select a 3-4 beetle sample of what you think might be a one species (it's best to do this job in sunlight, so you can see properly)
  • Place this species sample into match box (do not include cotton wool or sticky tape)
  • Repeat the process until you have a 3-4 beetle sample for each different species of dung beetle you find


Just like a dog is a different to a fox, it is probably a different species of dung beetle if it...

  • is a different colour
  • is a different size
  • if you are unsure, include it in your sample... but remember you can only submit a total maximum of 25 beetles for your FREE IDENTIFICATION!

STEP 3 - post your samples...

SOILCAM offer a Free Identification Service
Mr John Feehan
3 Prell Place

The samples must be accompanied by the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your postal address
  • Your telephone number
  • a road map clearly showing the location of your property in relation to the largest nearby towns
  • A stamped self-addressed envelope

STEP 4 - results!

After a couple of weeks, you will receive your dung beetle identification results. Including:

  • the identified CSIRO-introduced species present on your farm;
  • additional introduced dung beetle species suitable for your climate; and
  • a list of those species which SOILCAM can supply and the approximate cost, which will depend on availability and ease of harvesting.


About Dung Beetles...

DSC_1670.jpgIn 2011, we invited internationally recognised Dung Beetle Guru - John Feehan, to join our Landcare lecture program at the Mudgee Mudgee Small Farm Field Days.

This year we will have Dr Bernard Doube coming on 3rd May 2013... stay tuned to our calendar for more details.

Fast Facts...

  • dung beetles bury dung to provide a food source for their eggs (the hatched larvae only need a tiny bit of the dung buried)
  • this buried dung, and the tunnels that lead to it, does wonders for the soil, increasing water infiltration and holding capacity. This means we can keep and use more mm of the rain that falls
  • different kinds of dung (sheep / cow / kangaroo) needs different species of dung beetles
  • 200 years ago, when Europeans introduced domestic livestock, they forgot to bring the right beetles!
  • to date, 44 species of dung beetle have been introduced to Australia, with 32 of these now establised. These beetles work primarily on cattle dung, with only 2-3 species at their climatic limits.
  • no beetles have been introduced for sheep manure yet!! (think 70 million sheep...!)
  • "worth far more than a tonne of fertiliser, the valuable impact from the right dung beetles on your farm will also last longer" John Feehan



Read more about dung beetles on these great websites:

And for a free resource pack