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[permaculture] Re: dung beetles

Lawrence F. London, Jr.   Venaura Farm
http://metalab.unc.edu/london   InterGarden   
london@metalab.unc.edu   lflondon@worldnet.att.net

On Fri, 14 May 1999, alteredstates wrote:

> Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 15:53:28 -0700
> From: alteredstates <alteredstates@olywa.net>
> To: permaculture@metalab.unc.edu
> Subject: dung beetles

> Hello.
> My name is Kristine.  I have associates that run Wild Burro Rescue , in
> Onalaska, WA....they save wild burros from Death Valley and take them to
> their sanctuary to live out their lives.  They have approx. 60 burros, that
> produce alot of dung.  Is it possible to purchase dung beetles in the US and
> is there a specific species of dung beetle that would thrive on burro dung,
> as I have read that some species of them have trouble with cow dung,
> although this is strictly burros.    Thanks for any help you can give.
> Kristine

I'd imagine DB's would utilize burro manure, probably right down their
alley, so to speak. Here is a little info on them from my archives at:

From: D.B.Sullivan <Buffalob@mhtc.net
Subject: A low Tech solution to solving Non-point pollution: DUNG BEETLES
and the possibility of a host of new  nature-based pharmaceuticals 

Letter to the editor:

A low Tech solution to solving Non-point pollution : DUNG BEETLES 
and the possibility of a host of new  nature-based pharmaceuticals 
(One of Nature's Excellent Free Tools)

The History of using beneficial insects for mankind is a long one,
and this  little creature posses a solution to one our pressing problems
of  agriculture ;  waste management and potential to create a host of
nature-based  pharmaceuticals .

Dung beetles don't bite, spit or sting.  Their procreative joy in
life  is  to bury fresh dung in  the ground in tunnels they dig. 
The tunnels can be from a few inches to a  few feet deep.

What does this accomplish (from both a producer's and an ecologist's

Rapidly removes dung from the surface which prevents smothering or
fouling of forage.  Decreases downstream non-point source pollution
from  manure.
Efficiently puts fresh dung (a nitrogen source rich in organic
matter  and moisture) back into the soil, recycling nutrients and
natural fertilizer.

Improves soil health which increases both plant diversity and
<plant  production which in turn increase ecological resilience.
Increases soil organic matter enabling the soil to absorb and hold
more rainfall (decreases erosion and flooding and reduces effects of
Removes the breeding media (dung) of hornflies and faceflies and of  
many  internal parasites (those whose eggs or larvae incubate in dung).

Aerates the soil which improves habitat for soil life (e.g.

Direct benefits to producers include decreased labor costs,
veterinary  costs and treatment costs, increased forage production and
availability,  improved water quality (buried dung doesn't contaminate
streams or  stock  ponds), decreased erosion, and increased drought
                          Medical Research Potential
"T. inflatum is commonly  found in soils, but it does not make the
sexual  state without very special  conditions -- until it is on its
favorite  host  -- which seems to be the  dung beetle."
"There are so many molds that we don't know the life cycle of. All
the  cyclosporin in the world -- for hundreds of thousands of transplant 
patients who need anti-rejection drugs -- has been made from
Tolypocladium  inflatum cultures without that mold ever reaching the
sexual  state," said  Kathie T. Hodge, the Cornell graduate student of 
systematic mycology who  identified the New York fungus for what it is. 
" Knowing the true family history of T. inflatum/C. subsessilis will
help  target the search for other nature-based pharmaceuticals, according
to Thomas Eisner, the Cornell biologist whose Institute for Research in
Chemical Ecology (CIRCE) will send "chemical prospecting" teams into
the  world's first temperate zone biodiversity preserve, less than a
mile from  the woods where students found the fungal fruiting bodies. One
close  relative of C. subsessilis already is known to Chinese athletes as
the performance-enhancing "caterpillar fungus." * Cornell News Service
Also the Chinese from  PRC are using  parts of the Dung beetle for
treating  Stomach Cancer. A derivative of cyclosporin is used with AZT
to  improve  the  drug's effectiveness. The Dung beetle may spawn the
development  nature-based  pharmaceuticals that may hold the promise for
a cure or  treatment  for AIDS or  Cancer.

It has come to our attention that a unique scientist Dr. Truman 
Fincher  and the only dung beetle quarantine facilities in the
continental United  States (located at College Station, Texas) are about
to be lost.
This would be significantly detrimental to the livestock  industry and to
the  ecological  health of our rangelands and potential research for
host of new drug possiblities.

The United States has few dung beetle species (150) compared to
Africa (over 2000).  Cattle are an "exotic" species introduced to North
America by  the Spaniards.  We need exotic dung beetle species that
selectively  prefer  cow dung.  Australia also introduced the exotic
species cattle.
They  have  since introduced over 30 species of dung beetles (mostly
from Africa)  to  control their fly and dung accumulation problem.
A healthy established population of the appropriate dung beetles
species  (selected for regional climate and rainfall conditions) can bury
as much  as  2000 lbs of manure per acre per day.

We are fortunate in the United States to have a scientist, Dr. Truman
Fincher, who has a unique expertise and research experience in
selecting,  importing through quarantine, colonizing and releasing
specific dung  beetle  species.  Establishment of introduced species is t
he short term  objective.    His long term goal is to provide continuous
burial of fresh dung in pastures and rangelands throughout the USA.

We have an immediate opportunity to request that his knowledge (the
results  of a many year Agricultural Research Service [ARS] project
terminated in  1987) and dung beetle quarantine facilities (at College
Station TX, the  only one in the USA) be used through USDA Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to implement the importation,
colonization and  large scale release of the appropriate dung beetle
species to benefit all  interested producers and to improve soil health and
diversity of pasture  and rangeland.  It would seem appropriate at this time to
transfer Dr.  Fincher from ARS to APHIS and to initiate a new APHIS

Such a  program could be funded for as little as $250,000 a year for
five years.   The facilities are in place.  The research has been done. 
Implementation  is all that is needed. Your support is required as soon
as possible to make this happen (the quarantine facilities will be
terminated as of Sept.  30, 1997).

If you are interested, please write, FAX or phone your Congress
persons  and  copy to:  Mr. Terry Medley, Administrator of APHIS, USDA,
Rm. 312E Jamie  Whitten Bldg., 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington D.C.
20250-3401.Phone 202-720-3668.  FAX 202-720-3054.

For more information, contact us:  Drs. Dick or Patricia Richardson, 
Dept.  of Zoology, Univ. of Texas, Austin TX 78712, phone 512-471-4128,
or  e-mail,  d.richardson@mail.utexas.edu.

Submitted by:
David B. Sullivan, Public Relations Director  
Wisconsin Bison Producers Association
Telephone (608) -723-6213 
email: Buffalob@mhtc.net
Mailing address: Buffalo Falls Ranch, LLC 
7744 Irish Hollow Road
Potosi, Wi 53820

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