Also found in: Medical.
animals that feed on excrement, chiefly that of mammals.
The main coprophages are dung beetles, dung water scavenger beetles, and larvae of Diptera (such as of dung flies, houseflies, some syrphus flies, soldier flies, and tachinids), as well as earth-worms, Enchitreidae, Oribatei, and other saprophages that appear on excrement in the last stages of its decomposition. In the forest zone the most common coprophages are dung beetles of the genera Geotrupes and Aphodius and the larvae of numerous dung flies. In the steppes, beetles of the genera Copris, Scarabaeus, and Gymnopleurus are frequent. Sometimes dung beetles are specialized for feeding on the dung of particular animal species. For example, Aphodius fossor and Onthophagus taurus feed on the dung of cattle. Coprophages contribute to the cycle of matter in nature—they hasten the decomposition of organic remains and aid processes of the humification of soil, which increases its fertility.