Ateuchus lecontei

Beneficial

Common name(s)

Leconte's dung beetle

Taxonomy

Family: Scarabaeidae Subfamily: Scarabaeinae Genus: Ateuchus Species: Ateuchus lecontei (Harold, 1868)

Adult diagnosis

Total body length 4.0–7.0 mm (0.16–0.28 in). Body shape round (dorsal view); may be caked in dung. Color shiny black. Eye shape semicircular when viewed from above. Mandibles not visible when viewed from above. Clypeal apex bidentate. Front tibia with apical spur bifurcate in male; spur pointed in female; often worn or missing in older individuals. Middle and hind legs not greatly elongate.

Larval diagnosis

Undescribed. For Ateuchus species (Ritcher, 1966): Grub C-shaped, with projecting hump, cylindrical, whitish. Maxilla with galea and lacinia distinctly separated. Epipharynx with tormae united mesally, anterior phoba present. Antennae 4-segmented; distal segment of antenna greatly reduced in size. Prothoracic shield without anteriorly projecting processes. Third abdominal segment without a prominent, conical, dorsal gibbosity. Venter of last abdominal segment with 2 monostichous, longitudinal palidia. Legs 2-segmented; claws absent.

Native range

Southeastern U.S.. In the U.S., this species is known from the Atlantic coastal plain from New Jersey south through Florida and east to Alabama (Woodruff, 1973).

Plant host(s)

None. This species feeds on dung as both an adult and larva. There are no records of this dung beetle feeding on live plant tissues, although adults have been recorded on rotten, fallen fruit (Woodruff, 1973).

Life history

(Woodruff, 1973): Although the life history of this species is poorly known, related Ateuchus species are dung burrowers, with adults creating a burrow 25.4–30.5 cm (10.0–12.0 in) beneath a fecal source. A burrow is provisioned with dung, and a single egg is laid near the entrance of the burrow. The nocturnal adults have been observed on cattle, dog, and human feces. Additional food sources include fungi, carrion, and rotting fruit.

Pest potential

None. This species recycles dung and is beneficial for ranching and farming in Hawaii. Primarily being a dung feeder, this species has never been recorded damaging crop or ornamental plants. Additionally, this species is not a threat to native dung beetles because none occur in Hawaii or Guam.

Status in Hawaii

Established. This species was intentionally released at Ewa on Oahu in August of 1963 (Davis and Krauss, 1964). Similar dung beetle introductions were undertaken to help control populations of the horn fly (Haematobia irritans), a biting pest of livestock (Markin and Yoshioka, 1998). It is known only from Oahu (Nishida, 2002).

Status in Guam

Not established or recorded. There are no records of this species from Guam.

Potential distribution and dispersal pathway

In Hawaii, this species was intentionally released.

Similar species

This scarab could be confused with small, similarly colored Hawaiian Onthophagus spp. or Hybosorus roei. It is easily separated from these, however, by examination of the clypeal apex (Ateuchus lecontei with apex bidentate versus Onthophagus with the apex entire or sinuate) and mandibles (Ateuchus lecontei with mandibles hidden under clypeus when viewed from above versus mandibles clearly visible from above in Hybosorus roei).

Other names (synonyms)

Choeridium lecontei Harold

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Ateuchus lecontei female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Ateuchus lecontei female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Ateuchus lecontei female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Ateuchus lecontei female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Ateuchus lecontei male foretibia; photo by E.L. Engasser

Ateuchus lecontei male foretibia; photo by E.L. Engasser

Ateuchus lecontei female foretibia; photo by E.L. Engasser

Ateuchus lecontei female foretibia; photo by E.L. Engasser

distribution map for Ateuchus lecontei

distribution map for Ateuchus lecontei