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Any member of one subfamily (Scarabaeinae) of scarab beetles, which shapes manure into a ball (sometimes as large as an apple) with its scooperlike head and paddle-shaped antennae. They vary from 0.2 to more than 1 in. (5–30 mm) long. In early summer it buries itself and the ball and feeds on it. Later in the season the female deposits eggs in dung balls, on which the larvae will later feed. They are usually round with short wing covers (elytra) that expose the end of the abdomen. They can eat more than their own weight in 24 hours and are considered helpful because they hasten the conversion of manure to substances usable by other organisms.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on dung beetle, visit Britannica.com.