Vampire Bugs


Kate Murray, Copy Editor

People who use the track on a regular basis, or have ever used it at all, will recognize the bugs that always seem to show up on the sides.   Small, round, and black, these scarab-like bugs have made a name for themselves in the halls of Ames High, but the true nature of the bugs has remained a mystery.

“Many people have tried to figure out what they are, but no one has come up with a species or type of bug,” senior Michael Burke said.  Since there has been no identification for these bugs, Burke said that they are often referred to as “devil black bugs or vampire black bugs”- the latter nickname referencing their tendency to bite.

Thanks to the ISU entomology (bug studies) department, however, this mystery is now resolved.  With the help of Dr. Donald Lewis, a professor of entomology at ISU and an expert in urban insects, we can now say with confidence that these track menaces are Copris fricator.  Dung beetles.

Yes indeed, the shocking truth is that the Ames High track bugs are dung beetles native to the area, but whether they truly live on the track or not is unclear as of yet.

“I think they live in the woods and come to annoy us on the track,” said Burke, “. . . They only seem to be there during practice times.  It’s like they know when they can attack us.”  And, according to Dr Lewis, this explanation may not be too far off the mark.

Like many beetles and other insects, dung beetles are highly attracted to lights.” Dr. Lewis said.  “A likely explanation is that these beetles were attracted to lights and landed on or near the track [after] the lights were turned off. “  If teams practice with the lights on, then it would make sense for the beetles to show up.

As dire as it may seem to have dung beetles gnawing at you, though, there’s no reason to panic.  They aren’t any bigger than the first knuckle of your thumb, and besides, when they decide to take over the world there’s nothing we can do to stop them anyway.