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Phanaeus vindex MacLachlan
Common Name: Dung beetle Scientific Name: Phanaeus vindex MacLachlan Order: Coleoptera Description: Males and female beetles are between ½ and 1 inch long and overall metallic blue-green and copper. The front of the head is flattened and golden bronze. The male has a long, curved horn extending from the front of the head (clypeus) while the slightly larger female has a tubercle. The front legs are modified for digging. There are a number of dung beetles or "tumblebugs" in the subfamily Scarabaeinae (Canthon, Copris, Deltochilum and Dichotomus and other genera) that are important in recycling animal feces. Some are small, dark dung-feeding scarab species (e.g., Ataenius and Aphodius species). One species, Onthophagus gazella Fabricius, was introduced by USDA scientists in the 1970's and is now common throughout the state. In parts of Texas, they remove 80 percent of the cattle droppings. Most species are dull to shiny black and 1-3/8 inch or less in length with wing covers (elytra) that may have ridges (striae). They are often attracted to lights at night. These beetles are related to the sacred scarab of ancient Egypt, Scarabaeus sacer Linnaeus.
Mouthparts are for chewing. Larvae feed on animal excrement buried by the adults. These beetles are rarely encountered unless an effort is made to examine fresh potential larval habitats! Animal excrement is rich in insect fauna and can yield these strikingly beautiful beetles. Beetles can be washed to remove debris.