Life history and parental behaviour of a dung beetle from neotropical rainforest, Copris laeviceps (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae)



This small beetle (0.1 g) has the same nesting and parental behaviour as larger species of Copris but its life history is different. Dung was brought into an underground chamber and formed into approximately eight brood balls in each of which an egg was laid. The female beetle remained in the nest while the brood developed. She repaired any damage to the nest or brood balls and attacked other insects that entered the nest. The female accepted brood balls that contained larvae of another Copris species, but she destroyed brood balls with larvae of Oniticellus cinctus, although the latter species shows very similar parental care. Each female made at least three nests in succession. Oviposition in the second and later nests occurred one week after the brood had emerged from the previous nest. Development from egg to imago required six weeks and the new adults laid eggs after three weeks, but on a restricted dung supply or at low temperatures oviposition was delayed for at least three months. Small numbers of beetles surviving under adverse circumstances could therefore multiply rapidly when the conditions become favourable.