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Dung beetles are being pushed towards extinction

Dung beetles ‘could be driven to extinction’ by veterinary drugs and pesticides poisoning the faeces they feast on, study finds

  • Mexican researchers found the chemicals alter the growth and development 
  • Pesticides and vet medicine is passed into the animal faeces they eat  
  • Numbers of the insects are dwindling as a result of this polluted food source  

Dung beetles could be heading towards oblivion as pesticides and veterinary medicines poison their daily diet of faeces. 

The declining numbers of the insect could have wide-reaching catastrophic implications for both the food chain and the wider ecosystem. 

Mexican researchers found the chemicals can alter the growth and development of dung beetles, which can then reduce their ability to function.

  

Dung beetles could be heading towards oblivion as pesticides and veterinary medicines poison their daily diet of faeces. The declining numbers of the insect could have wide-reaching catastrophic implications for both the food chain and the wider ecosystem (stock)

WHAT ARE DUNG BEETLES?  

Dung beetles are a small insect which can grow to around 0.5 inches (1.3 centimeters) to 2.5 inches (6.3 centimeters), depending on species. 

Females lay between three and 20 years and emergence can take around a month.  

Dung beetles survive on eating manure and roll it into balls which they push along the ground. 

This helps distribute vital nutrients into the soil. 

They also eat pests and by regenerating dung they reduce greenhouse gas, said the study.

Dung beetles are one of the most threatened terrestrial animal species; and one of the main threats is the excessive use of veterinary medical products that are excreted in dung. 

It could be disastrous for agriculture in many parts of the world as their eating habits keep soil fertile, control pests and reduce greenhouse gases. 

Much of the dung they eat is now contaminated from chemicals which have been flushed out animals’ systems. 

They enter the food web for various reasons — treating illness in livestock and preventing crop loss — but the trickle-down affect is damaging the dung beetle population. 

The study by the Institute of Ecology in Mexico for the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, highlights the vital ecological niche occupied by the beetles. 

Dung beetles survive by eating manure and roll it into balls which they push along the ground. This helps distribute vital nutrients into the soil. 

They also eat pests and by regenerating dung they reduce greenhouse gas, said the study. 

Mexican researchers found the chemicals can alter the growth and development of dung beetles, which can then reduce their ability to function. Much of the dung they eat is now contaminated from chemicals which have been flushed out the systems of animals (stock)

Mexican researchers found the chemicals can alter the growth and development of dung beetles, which can then reduce their ability to function. Much of the dung they eat is now contaminated from chemicals which have been flushed out the systems of animals (stock)

But the study added: ‘Dung beetles are one of the most threatened terrestrial animal species; and one of the main threats is the excessive use of veterinary medical products that are excreted in dung.

‘Native and exotic species of dung beetles are highly sensitive to different types of livestock management.’

The researchers hope their study can go towards changing livestock management strategies to protect the beetles and in turn help the health of vital grasslands and other environments.

The study added: ‘If you are what you eat, it’s a bad day for dung beetles living in or near intensive animal feeding facilities. 

‘Shrinking dung beetle populations mean steeper environmental and financial costs in agricultural regions, and that means it’s a bad day for all of us, too.’



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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