Tucked away in climate-controlled chambers on Charles Sturt University's campus in Wagga, hundreds of Moroccan beetles are being prepared for a mammoth and somewhat unsavoury task.
The dung beetles are being acclimatised to the conditions of regional Australia ahead of their eventual release to help clear poo in paddocks across the country.
Current species of dung beetle in Australia are only active in Summer and Winter, meaning many fields end up dense with sheep and cattle poo during the other seasons.
These paddocks then become the perfect breeding ground for flies, roundworms and other pests.
In other news
CSU researcher Leslie Weston said the new arrivals are known to be active during Spring back in Morocco and it is hoped they will fill that gap in activity Down Under.
"We would like to have a year-round reduction of dung sitting on the soil's surface because it creates havoc with various pests," Professor Weston said.
Active dung beetles can decompose dung in just hours by shredding it and burying it in the ground, which also has major benefits for soil fertility.
Professor Weston said the number of flies in Wagga has dropped dramatically in the past ten years - thanks to the efforts of the beetles.
"When I first came to Wagga we would walk down the street some days wearing a veil because we had that many flies," she said.
"Lately we don't have that kind of situation because we have dung beetles that are very active in reducing the dung burden in pastures around the city."
The beetles currently being held in Wagga are the offspring of hundreds which were transported from Morocco to a CSIRO quarantine facility in Canberra.
While in the Riverina, the beetles are slowly acclimatised to the conditions of regional Australia and also undergo mass breeding to increase their numbers.
"We have controlled environment chambers where we culture these beetles under optimal conditions and they're given high quality dung with which they grow, feed and then potentially reproduce," Professor Weston said.
"Then we allow them to start to adapt to Australian field conditions by taking them from the controlled environment here outdoors to start to adapt before we release them typically into growers fields and paddocks."
The project has already seen thousands of the beetles released into farmers' fields across the southern parts of Australia and Professor Weston said it is hoped the next batch will be released in July.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.