Role of dung beetle feeding mechanisms in limiting the suitability of species as hosts for the nematodeSpirocerca lupi

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Abstract.Various species of dung beetle serve as intermediate hosts after ingesting the embryonated eggs (11–15 × 30–37 μm) of Spirocerca lupi (Spirurida: Spirocercidae) in dog faeces. The feeding mechanisms of coprophagous dung beetles restrict the size of the food particles they can ingest and hence may determine which species can be efficient vectors for S. lupi. In this study, we aimed to exclude certain dung beetle species as possible hosts of S. lupi based on whether or not they ingested latex beads of known diameters mixed into fresh cattle dung. We found that the majority (11/14) of species tested can potentially serve as intermediate hosts of S. lupi because their mouthparts allow the passage of food particles larger than the minimum size range of the eggs of this parasite.

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