Neosisyphus spinipes

Beneficial

Common name(s)

grey dungball roller

Taxonomy

Family: Scarabaeidae Subfamily: Scarabaeinae Genus: Neosisyphus Species: Neosisyphus spinipes (Thunberg, 1818)

Adult diagnosis

Total body length 7.5–12.0 mm (0.30–0.47 in). Body shape round, somewhat spherical. Color dark grey-brown. Clypeus broadly emarginate. Pronotum with short, fine setae (may be missing in worn specimens). Hind and middle legs slender, greatly elongated. Hind trochanter of male elongate, spine-like (lacking in female). Antennae 8-segmented. Pygidium with height greater than width.

Larval diagnosis

Undescribed. For Scarabaeinae (Ritcher, 1966): Grub C-shaped, hump-backed, cylindrical, and cream-colored. Maxilla with galea and lacinia distinctly separate. Antennae with 4 or 5 apparent segments. Distal segment of antenna much reduced in size. Epipharynx with tormae united mesally, anterior phoba present. Legs 2-segmented. Anal opening surrounded by fleshy lobes.

Native range

Africa. This species is native to Africa, occurring from South Africa northward through East Africa to Ethiopia (Tyndale-Biscoe, 1990). It was intentionally introduced to Australia (Bailey, 2007).

Plant host(s)

None. This species feeds on dung as both an adult and larva.

Life history

(Tyndale-Biscoe, 1990): During the day, females search for fresh dung. Upon discovery, the female, with aid of the male, shapes a portion of the dung into a ball. Using the elongated hind legs, the pair rolls the dung ball from the original site before attaching it to the stem of nearby surface vegetation. A single egg is laid on the dung ball, with the egg taking 6–11 weeks to develop into an adult. Females rarely lay more than a single egg each day. In Australia, adults are most active between December and May, with several generations occurring each year (Bailey, 2007).

Pest potential

None. This species recycles dung and is beneficial for ranching and farming. As an obligate dung feeder, Neosisyphus spinipes poses no threat to crop or ornamental plants. Additionally, this species is not a threat to native dung beetles because none occur in Hawaii.

Status in Hawaii

Recorded, not established. This species was intentionally released on Big Island in 1967 to help control populations of the horn fly (Haematobia irritans), a biting pest of livestock (Markin and Yoshioka, 1998). Despite this effort, Neosisyphus spinipes failed to establish on the island (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 but did not establish.

Similar species

With its greatly elongate hind and middle legs, Neosisyphus spinipes is distinctive amongst dung beetles recorded from Hawaii. It is possible that this scarab might be confused with similar-shaped species of Canthon. N. spinipes is separated from the Canthon species by examining the legs (N. spinipes with middle and hind legs greatly elongated and with the hind trochanter of the male long and spine-like versus Canthon dung beetles that possess less elongate legs and lack the elongated trochanter) and antennae (N. spinipes with 8 segments versus Canthon species with 9 segments).

Other names (synonyms)

Sisyphus spinipes Thunberg

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Neosisyphus spinipes male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes male; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes female; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes male genitalia, caudal view; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes male genitalia, caudal view; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes male genitalia, lateral view; photo by E.L. Engasser

Neosisyphus spinipes male genitalia, lateral view; photo by E.L. Engasser

distribution map for Neosisyphus spinipes

distribution map for Neosisyphus spinipes