Digitonthophagus gazella

Beneficial

Common name(s)

brown dung beetle, gazelle scarab, gazelle dung beetle

Taxonomy

Family: Scarabaeidae Subfamily: Scarabaeinae Genus: Digitonthophagus Species: Digitonthophagus gazella (Fabricius, 1787)

DNA barcode

DNA barcode available: specimen information

Adult diagnosis

Total body length 10.0–13.0 mm (0.39–0.51 in). Body shape oval; may be caked in dung. Color brown to dark-brown; margin of pronotum tan. Medium-sized Onthophagus-like dung beetle, more than 10 mm. Clypeal apex weakly sinuate; not strongly produced in either sex. Head of male with 2 short, upward curving horns at base; minor male with horns reduced or absent; female lacking horns, instead with transverse ridge. Ocular canthus completely dividing eye. Pronotum with anterior angle rounded. Pronotum lacking horns; male with weak hump-like process; minor male and female with weak bi-lobed process. Tibia of male elongated, gracile; female tibia comparatively stout. Scutellum absent.

Larval diagnosis

(Huerta et al., 2010): Grub C-shaped, hump-backed, cylindrical, and cream-colored. Maxilla with galea and lacinia distinctly separate. Lacinia with 2–6 dorsobasal setae. Labium hypopharynx glossa with 9–15 latero-posterior setae; 13–32 setae on lateral lobe. Epipharynx with tormae united mesally, anterior phoba present. Chaetoparia with 10 setae. Antennae 4-segmented, distal segment much reduced. Legs 2-segmented. Prothoracic shield without anteriorly projecting processes. Third abdominal segment bearing a prominent conical, dorsal gibbosity covered with numerous short, stout setae.

Native range

Africa. This dung beetle is native to hot, arid, and semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa (Tyndale-Biscoe, 1990). This species was introduced to Texas in 1970 and has spread (sometimes with deliberate human intervention) throughout much of the southern half of the U.S., southward to Uruguay and Argentina (Noriega et al., 2010). It was introduced to Australia (Tyndale-Biscoe, 1990).

Plant host(s)

None. This species feeds on dung as both an adult and larva. There are no records of this beetle feeding on live plant tissues.

Life history

(Tyndale-Biscoe, 1990): Adults of this species live about 2 months, flying from sunrise to sunset in search of dung. In areas of moist, loose soil, females construct a burrow 20–25 cm (7.87–9.84 in) under or near a dung source. The burrow is provisioned with dung formed into oval-shaped brood balls. Each brood ball is impregnated with a single egg. Development from egg to adult can take as little as 3–5 weeks under optimal conditions. Development often takes much longer when the conditions are less favorable. There are multiple generations per year.

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. In Hawaii, this species was introduced to Oahu in 1957 (Davis, 1960) and on Big Island in 1973 at Parker Ranch (Nakao et al., 1975). Further introductions occurred on Kauai and Maui, though it is unclear if those introductions took place in 1957 or 1973 (Markin and Yoshioka, 1998). In much of Hawaii, this species is usually most abundant at lower elevations. It is one of the most common dung beetles on Oahu (Harris et al., 1982), Kauai, and Maui (Markin and Yoshioka, 1998).

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 imported.

Similar species

This species could be confused with the similarly colored, medium-sized (more than 10 mm) species: Onthophagus nigriventris and Onthophagus sagittarius.

Major males are readily separated by examining the head armature (D. gazella with 2 short, upward curving horns versus O. nigriventris lacking horns, O. sagittarius with 2 tusk-like horns).

Minor males and females are separated by examining the base of the head (D. gazella with straight, transverse ridge versus O. nigriventris with a sinuate ridge, O. sagittarius with single horn).

Other names (synonyms)

Scarabaeus gazella Fabricius, Onthophagus antelope Fabricius, Onthophagus catta Fabricius, Onthophagus dorcas Olivier, Onthophagus gazella Fabricius, Onthophagus intermedius Reiche, Onthophagus metallicus Fabricius

Report your observation

Report your observation of this beneficial species at our iNaturalist project.

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male genitalia, lateral view; photo by E.L. Engasser

Digitonthophagus gazella male genitalia, lateral view; photo by E.L. Engasser

distribution map for Digitonthophagus gazella

distribution map for Digitonthophagus gazella