Abstract Pyrethroid insecticides are widely used to control ectoparasites of livestock, particularly ticks and biting flies. Their use in African livestock systems is increasing, driven by the need to increase productivity and local food security. However, insecticide residues present in the dung after treatment are toxic to dung-inhabiting insects. In a semiarid agricultural habitat in Botswana, dung beetle adult mortality, brood ball production, and larval survival were compared between untreated cattle dung and cattle dung spiked with deltamethrin, to give concentrations of 0.01, 0.1, 0.5, or 1 ppm. Cattle dung-baited pitfall traps were used to measure repellent effects of deltamethrin in dung on Scarabaeidae. Dung decomposition rate was also examined. There was significantly increased mortality of adult dung beetles colonizing pats that contained deltamethrin compared to insecticide-free pats. Brood ball production was significantly reduced at concentrations of 1 ppm; larval survival was significantly reduced in dung containing 0.1 ppm deltamethrin and above. There was no difference in the number of Scarabaeidae attracted to dung containing any of the deltamethrin concentrations. Dung decomposition was significantly reduced even at the lowest concentration (0.01 ppm) compared to insecticide-free dung. The widespread use of deltamethrin in African agricultural ecosystems is a significant cause for concern; sustained use is likely to damage dung beetle populations and their provision of environmentally and economically important ecosystem services. Contaminated dung buried by paracoprid (tunneling) beetles may retain insecticidal effects, with impacts on developing larvae below ground. Lethal and sublethal effects on entire dung beetle (Scarabaeidae) communities could impair ecosystem function in agricultural landscapes.