Onthophagus mniszechi (native)

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Large, male dung beetle with a large horn and humps on its head and orange club-like antennae. Picture front on and profile.Onthophagus mniszechi (female) Large, female dung beetle with a large horn and humps on its head. Picture front on and profile. Arrow points to: 2 prominent, diverging horns (thoracic horns) at front of the pronotum. prominent crphalic horn worn tibial teeth common in older females, otherwise legs similar to males  Profile photo has arrows pointing to: 2 prominent, diverging horns at front of the pronotum (thoracic horns)  single prominent horn on head (cephalic horn) Edges of the concavities are rounded not sharp horns on the female are smaller to those on a comparable sized male.

Size

15–22 mm

Colour

Shiny black

Horns

Single, prominent horn on head and two horns on front of pronotum

Active seasons

Found all year, but most commonly from spring through to autumn.

Distribution in Australia

Victoria, WA, SA, NSW

Map of Australia showing mniszechi distribution in southern Vic and SE South Australia

South West Prime Lamb Group (SWPLG) demonstrations

O. mniszechi is a native dung beetle, also known as Three-horned dung beetle and Kershaw’s burying beetle. It has been trapped at Narrawong, Heywood, Cashmore and Hamilton in good numbers throughout the year (see below). There is little information available about O. mniszechi in comparison to the other dung beetles found during the demonstration. However, a paddock walk at Heywood showed lots of beetle activity in fresh sheep dung, with tunnelling to around 20 cm and soil brought to the surface. It has also found to be prolific at Cashmore. Anecdotally, native beetles such as O. mniszechi are becoming more active on sheep and cattle dung, having evolved with drier, native animal dung (pers. comm. John Feehan).

Dung burial

O. mniszechi has been observed tunnelling into the subsoil, burying dung to around 20 cm and bringing subsoil to the surface. 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

Unclear. However, most sightings of O. mniszechi in the region have been on light soils.

A dung beetle trap with dung beetles floating in water

A small mound of grey soil on the surface of grass

A shovel with soil and a dung beetle buried 15 cm deep

A hand holding a length of sheep dung

Acknowledgements and references

Identification photos by Russ Barrow, Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineer (DBEE) Project

Page last updated: 03 Feb 2023