We've found three of these dor beetles Geotrupes stercorarius blundering through the leaf litter in Backstone Bank wood in Weardale in the last week.
Dor beetles tunnel through animal dung and lay their eggs underneath, where their developing larvae live on a rich diet of faeces that's conveniently located just above their heads. It is said that adult and larva can both eat their own weight in dung everyday, which we should be thankful for: without them it might be piled high in the fields.
It seemed odd to find these in this patch of ancient woodland because there is no cow dung, which they often eat. The largest animal poo in Backstone Bank belongs to roe deer, although dog walkers' pets also make a contribution to the beetle's nutrition and child-rearing.
Dor beetles are ungainly insects and this one lost its footing, tumbled down the bank and landed, upside-down and helpless, at my feet. The iridescent blue-black colours areparticularly attractive, provided you don't dwell for too long on what it has just emerged from.
I turned it over with a twig and sent it on its way.
Dor beetles are also known as 'lousy watchmen' because they are usually infested ith mites. To see an afflicted individual that we found a couple of years ago, click here