Did you know...
- An Irish woman around the mid 1800's passed thousands of adult Egyptian beetles in her stools.
- The historic association of these beetles with graves has given rise to this species notoriety as the Churchyard or Graveyard beetle.
- They are also referred to as the 'Toyota' or 'V8' beetle, reflecting the beetle's robust nature and rapid ground speed when disturbed or exposed to light.
- It is not uncommon to enter the workhouse areas of silos and see hundreds running for cover. They become so intent on escaping light they will climb on top of each other until they are 10 deep.
Geographical Region: Australasia
Distribution & Habitat
Egyptian beetles are found in drier areas of South Australia and have recently been recorded in western Victoria. They are commonplace around grain silos where there are large number of rats.
In South Australia, there is community concern about the effect of high beetle numbers on local eco-systems. More of concern is their possible spread to similar climatic regions in other states.
In Europe, Blaps species do not tend to occur in large numbers as reported in Australia. This could be due to the fact that they are a recent import and have no natural predators. Mouse plagues may also influence population levels in South Australia.
Due to its close association with rodents, good hygiene around grain stores and premises that warehouse food and produce would curb numbers.
Description & Behaviour
They range from 3 to 4 cm in size. Its seemingly cumbersome large legs enable it to rapidly escape from threatening situations.
They can secrete a defensive toxic substance from the abdominal end. When disturbed or threatened, these beetles rear up on their hind legs and eject fluid up to distances of 30 cm. The secretion consists of a mixture of quinones and can cause severe irritation and mild blistering of exposed skin if not immediately washed off.
Both larvae and adult beetles feed on the faeces of rats, mice and rabbits. Whilst not a pest of stored grain, they are known to feed on water damaged or decaying grain. Their presence in grain silos is largely incidental and heavy infestations are generally associated with high rodent numbers.
Under laboratory conditions, they can survive for months with minimal water and food.