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Aphodius prodromus

The most common dungbeetle in our part of Europe is this Aphodius prodromus. It is a difficult species to identify, for it is extremely similar to another very common species: Aphodius sphacelatus. Both are species especially found in winter and spring. The two species may even appear together.

When appearing together it is usually not too difficult to tell them apart. Measuring 5 to 7 mm, Aphodius prodromus is a little bigger and strikingly broader. The neckshield ends black. Going from the side upwards the third line of dots on the shields begins later than the second line does. Aphodius sphacelatus is smaller and significantly more narrow. Usually it is also lighter in colour. Light ochruous animals usually are Aphodius sphacelatus. A yellow line runs over the end of the neck shield, even though this may be a very thin line indeed. And the third line of dots on the shields usually starts at about the same point as the second does.

Adult beetles appear in September, but they are rarely seen. They overwinter and usually become active in February or March. Most adults are seen in April and May. They deposit their eggs in all kinds of dung: sheep's, horse's etc. In the past it was reported they avoid cow's dung, but later studies revealed they use cow dung as well. The larvae pupate by the end of summer or the beginning of autumn.

Aphodius prodromus is a wide spread species in England, Wales and Scotland. It prefers sandy soils. Common in other parts of Europe too. Also found in Canada and the USA.