Canthon vigilans

Dung-Rolling Beetle / Tumblebug

Canthon vigilans, Tumblebug




Family: Scarabaeidae

Subfamily: Scarabaeinae

Length: 14-20 mm


The scoop-like device at the front of Canthon vigilans allows the beetle to form dung into a ball. Then, by tumbling the ball along it the ball is compacted and made more spherical. The beetles lay eggs in the dung balls, bury them, and the larvae feed on the dung.

These beetles reportedly were more common in the days of horse and buggies!

These black beetles sometimes have a purple sheen to them. The eyes are large, hence the scientific name that means "vigilant."

Canthon vigilans is sometimes attracted to lights.

This is one of a handful of species that are included on the Insects of West Virginia website because they are probably found in West Virginia. The one shown here was photographed in Rockingham County, Virginia, not so far from West Virginia. The states with official records for Canthon vigilans range from Massachusetts to Florida, and west to Texas, Nebraska, and Michigan. The species has also been reported from Ontario.