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Tumblebug (Canthon spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Tumblebug

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Watching Tumblebugs gather animal dung into balls and whimsically roll them away can be entertaining for people at any age.

Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Tumblebugs are a type of Dung Beetle. Adults are often spotted rolling balls of dung larger than themselves across the ground to an underground burrow. Their efforts to move the balls are admirable, though sometimes clumsy in appearance. Females may ride on top on one, helping to roll it with her legs, while males push from below. Once the ball is underground, the female lays a fertilized egg onto the round heap (called a brood ball), which provides the larva with food after it hatches. Other dung balls are rolled and collected as food and consumed by adults.

Tumblebugs are black and have strong legs. Some glossy, some are matte. Some species are smooth and others have dimpled texture on them. All of them are resourceful, making good use of what is typically considered waste.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Shiny insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Scarabaeidae
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          Genus: Canthon
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Canthon spp.
Other Name(s): Dung Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 19mm (0.43" to 0.74")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, purple
Descriptors: wide, flying, dung, rolling, sheen, metallic

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 11mm (0.4in) and 19mm (0.7in)
Lo: 11mm
Md: 15mm
Hi: 19mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Tumblebug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Tumblebug . Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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