CNN Environment

Dung beetles devour 'poo-lution' Down Under

dung beetle

November 4, 1995
Web posted at: 1:50 a.m. EST

From WTN Reporter Brady Halls

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- When we talk about the magnificently resourceful dung beetle, let's face it, we've got to talk about ... dung. And although the mind swoons with all kinds of words for the leftovers of living things everywhere, we'll avoid any of the harsher references. Or we'll try.

Residents in Sydney, Australia, are making room for thousands of new residents to help find the solution to one of their messiest problems, dog "poo-lution." And instead of being repulsed by the dung beetle, the beach suburb of Curl Curl is actually eager to welcome them.

When the food chain was formed, the dung beetle was apparently the last creature in the que, because these creatures eat nothing but poo. This shipment of beetles is multi-cultural; one variety is from the north side of the Mediterranean, another is from Spain, and the third variety is from Africa.

Scientists discovered that dung beetles can actually get rid of dog dirt by burrowing into the feces and tunneling it underground, where nutrients is returned to the soil. So the local Warringah Council paid $2,500 U.S. dollars for 25,000 feces-chomping beetles. And the local community could not be happier. (527K QuickTime movie)

Each day more than 100 tons of dropping are left by Aussie dogs on the streets of Sydney. Now the beetles are making it a cleaner city. There is also expected to be a massive reduction in the number of flies and cleaner waterways.

John Freehan

John Feehan, who used to work for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, bred the beetles. He says that a large portion of dung could be removed by the beetles within 48 hours.

About 200 farmers in Australia have been using the bugs to get rid of cow dung, but this is the first time that they have been employed in the metropolitan area.

And as for the beetles finding the droppings, Feehan says it's simple. They smell their way to work.


Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.