Scarabaeinae (Dung Beetles)Digitonthophagus gazella Euoniticellus pallipes (Southern Sandy Dung Beetle) Onthophagus dandalu (Dung Beetle) Onthophagus declivis (Dung Beetle) Onthophagus ferox (Western Dung Beetle)

— see Dung Beetles

Dung beetles belong to the family Scarabaeidae (the scarab beetles) and subfamily Scarabaeinae (the dung beetles) and are found on all continents except Antarctica. Most dung beetles are winged, but there are a few wingless species, mainly found in rainforests. All have a keen sense of smell and characteristically branched, flat-tipped antennae.

Onthophagus declivis (Declivis Dung Beetle), Wallaga Lake NSW © Deb Taylor
Onthophagus declivis (Declivis Dung Beetle), Wallaga Lake NSW © Deb Taylor

Australia has more than 500 species of native dung beetles, of which 20% are found in South East Queensland. Over 40 species of dung beetles that have been introduced to Australia’s agricultural regions from places such as Hawaii, Africa and southern Europe. 23 species have successfully established in Australia.

Digitonthophagus gazella, Alice Springs NT
Digitonthophagus gazella, Alice Springs NT

Digitonthophagus gazella (Gazella Dung Beetle) was introduced into Australia as part of the CSIRO Australian Dung Beetle project. In 1966 a pilot project commenced to import foreign dung beetles into northern Australia to assess prospects for the biological control of dung in this region. The first large-scale release of dung beetles by CSIRO was in 1967, then followed by others over the next three summers. In all a total of 275 000 beetles of four species were let loose, mainly between Broome in Western Australia and Townsville in Queensland. The species Onthophagus gazella (reclassified as Digitonthophagus gazella) made extraordinary progress and caused spectacular dung dispersal, colonising an area 400 kilometres by 80 kilometres in just two years.2

Digitonthophagus gazella, Alice Springs NT
Digitonthophagus gazella, Alice Springs NT

A search through iNaturalistAU will show a varied list of named family, genus and species such as subfamilies Scarabaeinae, Aphodiinae; genus Phanaeus, Canthon, Scarabaeus; species Trypocopris vernalis, Phanaeus vindex, Digitonthophagus gazella, Geotrupes splendidus, Dichotomius carolinus etc.

Dung Beetle (Onthophagus dandalu), Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman
Dung Beetle (Onthophagus dandalu), Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman

Check out our some of our currently listed dung beetles:


  • Scientific classification
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Subclass: Pterygota
  • Order: Coleoptera
  • Suborder: Polyphaga
  • Infraorder: Scarabaeiformia
  • Superfamily: Scarabaeoidea
  • Family: Scarabaeidae
  • Subfamily: Scarabaeinae
  • Tribe:
    • Canthonini
    • Coprini
    • Oniticellini
    • Onitini
    • Onthophagini
    • Scarabaeini

Footnote & References

  1. Dung beetles in Australia, National Museum Australia, https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/dung-beetles-in-australia
  2. Dung beetle program, by Colin Ward, 21 February 2011, CSIROpedia, https://csiropedia.csiro.au/dung-beetle-program/
  3. Dung Beetles, Australian Museum, https://australian.museum/learn/animals/insects/dung-beetles/
  4. Small Dung Beetles (Subfamily Aphodiinae), iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/taxa/51977-Aphodiinae
  5. Dung Beetles, Land for Wildlife (South East Queensland), https://www.lfwseq.org.au/dung-beetles/
  6. What’s in your dung?, A guide to dung beetle species in the Northern Agricultural Region WA, Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers, https://www.dungbeetles.com.au/sites/default/files/2022-05/dbee_regional-guide_n-ag-wa_package.pdf

Scarabaeinae (Dung Beetles)Digitonthophagus gazella Euoniticellus pallipes (Southern Sandy Dung Beetle) Onthophagus dandalu (Dung Beetle) Onthophagus declivis (Dung Beetle) Onthophagus ferox (Western Dung Beetle)

ScarabaeidaeScarabaeinae (Dung Beetles)

ColeopteraColeoptera Index Amarygmus sp Anoplognathus sp Aphanestes gymnopleura Buprestidae Carphurus Cerambycidae Coleoptera (Beetles) Curculionidae Dung Beetle Eretes australis Helea scaphiformis Johannica gemellata (Pandorea Leaf Beetle) Ladybirds (Beetles) Lepidiota Lucanidae Lycidae Neospades sp Omorgus Paropsine Beetle Paropsisterna sp Phorticosomus sp Pittosporum Leaf Beetle (Lamprolina impressicollis) Protaetia fusca Pterohelaeus sp Rhipiceridae Scarabaeidae Xylophilostenus octophyllus

InsectsBees Beetles Blattodea Butterflies Coleoptera Cicada Crabronidae Diptera Dragonflies & Damselflies Formicidae Hemiptera Heteroptera (True Bugs) Mango Planthopper Moths Orthoptera Orthopteroid Processionary Caterpillar Stink Bugs, Shield Bugs and Allies Syrphidae Wasps Water Scorpion (Laccotrephes tristis) Witchetty Grub