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This nocturnal dung-feeding scarab beetle is found from the southeastern United States to Central America (Howden 1983). The preferred habitat for Dichotomius carolinus appears to be primary forest (Estrada and Coates-Estrada 2002). They will, however, come into nearby openings to feed on dung of horses and cattle (Howden, 1983).

The body length of individuals in this species ranges from 22 to 30 mm (Hogue 1993). This is considered a large dung beetle, and the largest species of dung beetle in Costa Rica (Howden 1983). They are completely black and have a convex body shape. The species lacks teeth and the anterior margin of the head is abruptly rounded (Howden 1983). The elytra have prominent striations that are typically filled with dry soil from digging (Hogue 1993).

They feed almost exclusively on dung of all kinds (Howden 1983) D. carolinus does not roll balls of dung as do some other dung beetles (Scholtz et al. 2009). Upon finding dung they divide it up into irregular fragments and push these fragments directly into a burrow (Hogue 1993). Depending on the soil type and moisture, the burrow the beetle digs is from 15-40 cm in depth. The dung is then consumed by adults or used as a brood mass (Howden 1983). The brood mass formed from the dung fragment only contains one large, whitish egg (Howden 1983). According to Howden, development from egg to pupa takes approximately two months and new adults emerge during moist periods (1983).

D. carolinus are largely nocturnal, with adults beginning activity at dusk. According to White (1998), this species is so powerful that it is difficult to hold it in a clenched fist. The best way to catch these beetles is by using pit fall traps containing feces (Howden 1983).

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