Tucked downstairs on page one on this day in 1969 was news that must have challenged Australian entomological self-esteem. Unfortunately, it had turned out, our native dung beetles "weren't up to the task" of coping with the relatively huge droppings of European cows.
This "sad realisation" had come to CSIRO scientist, Dr G. F. Bornemissza, of the division of entomology based at Black Mountain. He lamented that while large, the Aussie dung beetle had been used to the smaller droppings of our native marsupials and simply couldn't cope with the imported bovine's enormous paddock pancakes.
Though they were attracted to cow dung, the Aussie beetles were succcessful in disposing of only a fraction of it, Dr Bornemissza said, noting (to massage wounded pride perhaps?) this was no reflection on the size of the Aussie beetles. The reason this inadequacy was a concern was that the cowpat was a fertile breeding ground for various pests, including the buffalo fly.
Dr Bornemissza said the answer to this problem had been importing more industrious dung beetles from overseas, ones that could cope with the 33 million tons of dung being produced in Australia each year. Unlike the disastrous import of the cane toad to solve a problem, the dung beetle experiment worked and the CSIRO website now describes the Dr Bornemissza-led program as a great success for Australian agriculture.