Horse Manure – Dung Beetles
Q: This morning I went out to clean my horse paddock and had 7 out of about 25 manure piles that have mounded dirt on them. The manure piles with this dirt are spread apart from each other. It isn’t one area that they are all in. I kicked it around but no ants or bugs are in it. Do you have any idea what this could be?
A: The dirt is put there by dung beetles. There are a few different kinds of this insect. Some species make small balls out of the manure and bury them. Other species pile soil in one spot to try and bury portions of the manure pile. A third species simply lays eggs in the manure and lives in it happily.
You have the second kind.
This, of course, is a positive thing because it helps you get rid of manure without having to truck it away. And it improves the soil of your pasture and paddock too.
Deworming medicine can affect the population of dung beetles. If you worm your horses frequently it could explain why have you not seen many beetles before.
Check with your veterinarian to find out how to use dewormers in ways that don’t threaten the beetles.