The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle (Circellium bacchus)

The Amazing Invertebrate Addo Beetle

Dung Beetles all over the South African mainland perform vital cleaning up jobs, even if these tiny creatures do not realise it. Dung Beetles are also a joy to watch and their amazing antics make a good addition to any South African holiday.

There is a very special specie of this insect that occurs in the Addo Elephant National Park. This invertebrate is known as the Addo Flightless Dung Beetle. This beetle is a member of the families Bolboceratidae and Scarabaeidae, which incorporates many different South African beetle species and other similar South African insects. The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle cannot fly (Hence the name) and is quite common within it's very restricted distribution and range. This dung beetle is most common in the main game area of the Addo Elephant National Park and this insect also occurs in the rest of the Greater Addo National Park. Listed below is some more general information on the one and only Addo Flightless Dung Beetle...

How To Identify The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle?

The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle is a very large, metallic black coloured insect with a body length of about 30 mm and 50 mm. This Addo insect has a shiny globular rounded outline and a large pronotum and abdomen.

Addo Flightless Dung Beetle Biology:

The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle adults gather at African Elephant dung for feeding and at Cape Buffalo dung for feeding and breeding. These remarkable insects then shape the dung into large round balls, which are then rolled away to be buried. The dung beetles only have one nesting sequence a year and in this time period they produce only one young beetle. Their conservation status is vulnerable as they depend on 2 large herbivores for survival: Elephant and Buffalo.

Other Interesting Information On The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle:

The Addo Flightless Dung Beetle only occurs in the Eastern Cape Province in a small patch, however it is fairly common within it's range. This terrestrial invertebrate occurs in habitats such as... Fish River scrub and Spekboomveld. They often congregate in 100's in the Addo Elephant National Park, this is the best place to see these special beetles.

South African Flightless Dung Beetle In Addo

Field notes on the Flightless Dung Beetle ... ' Miskruier'  ' Inkuba- bulongo'

Easy to spot

You will see these large black beetles on the road as you drive through the Addo Elephant park. They are especially easy to see after rain.

What are they doing?

The flightless dung beetles eat both elephant and buffalo dung. They are very quick to find fresh dung and either eat it at the spot where it dropped or roll it into a ball and bury it to eat later.

Dung beetles are very  important

*  They help recycle vegetation by redistributing it and speeding up the decomposition of dung, returning valuable nutrients to the soil.

*  The adults, larvae and pupae provide food for small carnivores like the  mongooses, meerkat and bat - eared fox.


We humans could learn a thing or two from the dung beetles. Living in a throw - away culture, we are destroying habits by taking natural resources, then dumping what we made on rubbish tips, taking more natural resources and so on.  We should not be too quick to throw things away, but reuse or recycle, like the dung beetle.

Family life

The female usually chooses the softer buffalo dung for a brood ball and rolls it to the size of a golf ball. She moves it away using her powerful hind legs, while the male follows along behind.

Sometimes, other dung beetles will try to steal a food or brood ball. When she has found a suitable spot, she buries the ball, with the male on top. They mate under the ground and a single egg is laid within the ball.

The female stays with the ball until the juvenile stage of her young is complete. The larva feeds on the dung ball from the inside and spends 3-4 months as a pupa before it emerges as an immature adult.

Save the dung beetles!

It is not an easy life, being a flightless dung beetle. There may be plenty of dung around, but there are also plenty of cars. Elephants tend to walk along the roads and so dung beetles have to risk life and limb to get their dung. You can help by avoiding driving over dung piles as well as the beetles themselves.

Did you know...?

There are over 1800 species of dung beetle.