The Dumbledore Beetle

By Elizabeth McArdle

When you hear the word Dumbledore, I guarantee that the wise old wizard from Harry Potter will immediately come to mind. However, the real Dumbledore is not a wizard at all but an awesome black beetle.

The word Dumbledore comes from an old word for slow or blundering and dor refers to a large flying, winged insect. Indeed, the Dumbledore beetle can fly well, most frequently on warm summer evenings. They are found in pastures and meadows and wherever there are grazing herbivores.

Because they excavate vertical burrows under cow pats to rear their young, this practice has earned them the additional name of dung beetle. Before you say ‘yuck’ and stop reading, consider that this beetle is one of the most important creatures on the planet.

In the course of their day to day activities, they recycle the nutrients from dung back to the soil. This maintains a healthy soil fertility on which all of life depends. Also, by breaking up cow pats and animal waste they greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas produced and released into the atmosphere. Therefore, the Dumbledore beetle plays a large role in combating destructive climate change.

Another very important task they perform is simply clearing up all the animal waste from the countryside and turning it into usable material for bacteria and fungi. If they did not provide this service, it would constantly build up and what would we do then? The consequences do not bear thinking about. In short, we cannot do without them.

In the world of small creatures there are many real celebrities and they deserve our attention and respect for the indispensable, unnoticed work they do. The Dumbledore beetle is chief among these and God in His wisdom has ensured that all creatures have their valuable place in the great scheme of life on earth.