The Sun, Storms and Scarabs

We had a walk yesterday evening, not on the dam, for fear of snakes, but along a sandy path outside town where I was afforded a good view of what was, or wasn’t, lurking on the ground before me. And we came upon a colony of dung beetles busily rolling their bounty.

Dung beetles, sometimes called tumble bugs, don’t just feed on the moisture they extract from the droppings of livestock which they find on account of their extraordinarily strong sense of smell, they gather it and roll it neatly into brooding balls which they bury underground where mating takes place. The female lays her eggs inside the readily prepared nursery-cum-larder so that her offspring are afforded something to eat when they first hatch and so that she has nourishment whilst she waits and watches.
Sometimes a female will help her mate roll – aiding him in pushing the egg sized ball along the ground in a dead straight line, regardless of obstacles (we watched a pair determindetly trying to roll their ball up a steep incline); sometimes females (presumably those not as concerned about keeping fit?) merely hitch a ride and roll with the ball; frequently ball rollers are ambushed by robbers lying in wait to pinch their ready-made ball – we watched one male fiercely defending his hard work.  
The dung beetle is of the same family as the scarab which was linked to Khepri, the Egyptian god of the rising sun; the people of ancient Egypt believed Khepri renewed the sun every day before rolling it up above the horizon.
I wondered, as I lay in bed last night listening to another advancing storm, whether Thunder might also have adopted the manoevering tactics of the dung beetle; wasn’t he up there rolling enormous black clouds of heavy rain around the heavens until he found a satifisying dumping ground? Somewhere where there might be an audience to witness his dramatic theatricals of sound and light.
The Outpost as it happened.  

dung-beetle.jpg

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5 Responses to “The Sun, Storms and Scarabs”

  1. Iota Says:

    Rel Mem, knowing your love of words and your hatred of poverty, I think you might enjoy this website: http://www.freerice.com. Perhaps you have already found it.

    I like your description of dung beetles. I expect we must look like dung beetles to some greater being – expending all our energy and time on making a nest and gathering food, power games between male and female, rivalries between opposing males. All the time we think it’s so important, but it probably just looks like so many little balls of dung from a higher perspective.

  2. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    just had a go. How cool is that!! I loved it. wasted half an hour but not really wasting since mind broadening and poverty alleviating at same time! Thanks Iota

  3. PeterAtLarge Says:

    Fascinating stuff here! I like your mix of poetry and political-social observation. Here in the US, we hear your news remotely, on TV. It get to be that much more real to hear it in the words of a real person. Thank you…

  4. Jen Says:

    Rel Mem: I have given your blog the “You Make My Day Award” at Living Dominica. I love your writing.

  5. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thanks PeterAtLarge; I try to mix it all up so that there’s a reasonable portrayal of both the important and the trivial – I’m delighted to know it ocassionally works.

    Jen; thanks so much. That’s very, very nice of you. Please keep reading

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