Bubas bison (introduced)

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Bubas bison (major male) Front on photos of large male dung beetle, highlighting features including horns on its head. Arrows point to two prominent horns (Minor males have small horns) and a prominent projection on the pronotum (pronotal tumosity). Strong inward curving extension of the front tibia is circled.Front on photo of large female dung beetle. Arrows point to the pronotum which has a ridge running across the front, a distinct bump (tubercle) and a prominent ridge between the eyes. Small spur extension of the front tibia is circled.

Profile of bubas bison (major male) with circles indicating pronotal ridge and arrows to tubercle and front ridgeProfile of bubas bison (female) with circles indicating pronotal ridge and arrows to tubercle and front ridge

Colour

Shiny black

Horns

Horn on each side of head and a projection on pronotum (m); ridge on head between eyes and on pronotum (f)

Minor males

Smaller horn on each side of head but not on pronotum

Flight time

Dawn and dusk

Active seasons

Autumn, winter and early spring

Distribution in Australia

Victoria, WA, SA, southern NSW

Map of Australia showing beetle distribution in Southern Australia and Western Australia

South West Prime Lamb Group (SWPLG) demonstrations

Very small numbers of B. bison have been trapped in SWPLG traps around Hamilton and Narrawong over winter. B. bison has been used in SWPLG trials where its activity increased soil fertility to depth. Its winter activity and deep tunnelling make it a desirable species.

Lifecycle

B. bison can have a one-, two- or three-year life cycle. Adults emerge in late autumn. They feed and mate in shallow tunnels (5–10cm deep) beneath dung pads, then lay eggs in brood masses in deep tunnels (25–60 cm deep). During the life of an adult beetle, a series of dung pads are colonised in which up to 50 eggs are deposited before the beetle dies, usually in late spring.

Dung burial

As B. bison tunnel into the subsoil, they bury dung deep in the soil profile and bring subsoil to the surface. The deep tunnels allow movement of moisture and plant roots into the subsoil, where beetle activity raises the levels of nutrients and moisture and creates favourable conditions for plant roots.

Preferences and establishment of B. bison

Beetles can be introduced as starter colonies. However, if they fail to breed successfully, the reason why needs to be determined. Soil type appears to be critical for successful breeding. Beetles prosper in clay and loamy soils but not in deep sand. Waterlogged winter soils can be tolerated by B. bison in most circumstances, but irrigation in spring and summer can reduce survival.

Acknowledgements and references

Page last updated: 21 Nov 2022