Spirocerca lupi (Spirurida: Spirocercidae) is a cosmopolitan parasite, principally of domestic dogs and dung beetles are its main intermediate hosts. In South Africa there has recently been growing concern
over the upsurge of reported cases of clinical spirocercosis in dogs, while little is known or understood about the dynamics of the host-parasite associations between dung beetles and this nematode. We determined and compared the prevalence of infection in dung beetles between rural, urban and periurban areas of Tshwane (Pretoria) Metropole. Dung beetles were sampled during April and October 2006, at various localities in each of these areas. Localities were selected on the basis of being focal areas of high infection with S. lupi in dogs. Pig, dog and cow dung-baited pitfall traps were used for sampling the beetles. Trap contents were collected 48 h after the traps had been set and only dung beetles were collected from the traps. In total, 453 specimens belonging to 18 species were collected from 63 pitfall traps in all three areas. The numbers of species that were collected varied among the three areas. Dung beetles, irrespective of species (18) and numbers (447), predominantly preferred pig dung. The prevalence of dung beetles infected with the larvae of S. lupi varied considerably in the three areas. In the urban area 13.5 % of the dung beetles dissected were infected, while the prevalence of S. lupi in dung beetles in the rural area was 2.3 %. All the dung beetles that were infected with this nematode showed a preference for omnivore (pig and dog) dung.