When you hear the term “pet,” what is the first picture that emerges in front of your eyes? Probably a cat or a dog, or even a goat or a horse. Now, try to be more creative and think of the more exotic pets, such as birds like finches and cockatiels, toads, water dragons, box turtles, crabs, even raccoons, and ferrets. All these, though quite unusual, can still be considered as pets. But what about Beetles?
Yes, we are talking about the small, winged insects that have the largest group of insects in the whole world, consisting of over 400,000 distinct species. Who would’ve thought that these creatures could also be kept as pets? The tradition of keeping them as pets probably began in Japan, where these insects are still most commonly kept as pets. The Japanese seem to adore these vibrantly-colored insects, and from them, this culture is slowly spreading throughout the world.
Today, we are going to talk about a particular species of Beetles, the Hercules Beetles, that are known for two large horns attached to their head that looks like a claw.
Hercules Beetle Classification
- Scientific name – Dynastes hercules
- Genus – Dynastes
- Subfamily – Dynastinae
- Family – Scarabaeidae
- Order – Coleoptera
- Superorder – Endopterygota/ Holometabola
- Class – Insecta
- Phylum – Arthropoda
Ranked among one of the largest beetles on the Earth, the Hercules Beetles are one of the most remarkable members of the beetle family. These beetles are members of the family of the Rhinoceros Beetles. They appear in a variety of colors, such as blue, green, black, yellow, white, etc.
Following are the subspecies of the Hercules Beetles:
- Dynastes hercules hercules
- Dyanastes hercules ecuatorianus
- Dyanastes hercules lichyi
- Dyanastes hercules paschoali
- Dyanastes hercules reidi
- Dyanastes hercules occidentalis
- Dyanastes hercules morishimai
- Dyanastes hercules septentrionalis
- Dyanastes hercules trinidadensis
- Dyanastes hercules takakuwai
The subspecies of Hercules Beetles in the United States
There are two species of the Hercules Beetles that you can find in the United States; the Eastern as well as the Western Hercules Beetles.
Although these species are closely related to the tropical species of Hercules Beetles, there are several significant differences between them.
Let’s take a look at these two species:
Eastern Hercules Beetle
As their name suggests, the Eastern Hercules Beetles are found in the eastern parts of the US, their western limit being in Texas.
They are about 2 to 3 inches long in length including the horns of the males. Both their horns are approximately of the same size, with the upper horn having a small bifurcation at the tip. At each side of their upper horn are two smaller horns.
The upper horn and elytra of these beetles are covered in yellow, green, tan, or grey, with black spots scattered around. However, in humid regions, their body becomes entirely black.
Apart from fallen fruits, these beetles also feed on the sap of ash trees.
Western Hercules Beetle
Found in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and the northern parts of Mexico, the Western Hercules Beetles are similar in size to their eastern cousins. Their upper horn and elytra are greyish-green in color when they are in a dry region, while as they find humidity, their body turns black as well.
The horns of the male Western Hercules Beetles are visibly longer than that of their Eastern cousin, which works as a distinguishing trait between the two. They also lack the bifurcation in their upper horn, a prominent feature of the male Eastern Hercules Beetles.
34 Hercules Beetles facts
Why have the Hercules Beetles been named so?
Known for their incredible strength, the Hercules Beetles have been named after a hero of the Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology, Hercules, who was known for his strength.
How much does a Hercules Beetle weigh?
The adult male Hercules Beetles are considerably heavier than their female counterparts due to their horns. While the males weigh about 34 grams, the females weigh only 16.3 grams.
How long do Hercules Beetles live?
The Hercules beetles have a rather short life expectancy, irrespective of whether they live on their own in the wild or in captivity as pets. On average, these beetles live up to the age of 2 to 3 years. These beetles spend most of their lives as a grub, living only 3-4 months as a fully-matured adult.
How strong are the Hercules Beetles?
As their name suggests, the Hercules Beetles are the strongest members of the Beetle family. These insects are surprisingly strong and can move around, lifting about 850 times of their body mass and move around.
The Rhinoceros Beetles, which are second to these Beetles in terms of strength, can only lift about 100 times their weight and still face difficulty in moving.
How many pairs of legs do the Hercules Beetles possess?
Like the other beetle species, the Hercules also possess three pairs of legs attached to their thorax.
How many pairs of wings do the Hercules Beetles have?
The Hercules Beetles have two pairs of wings. Like their legs, their wings are also attached to their thorax. However, when folded, these extend over their abdomen.
Which part of the Hercules Beetle’s body is called elytra?
The forewings of the Hercules Beetles are known as elytra. These wings are specifically hardened to protect their soft hindwings which they use for flight. When resting, their hindwings are hidden under the forewings (elytra).
What is the temperament of the Hercules Beetle?
The Hercules Beetles are primarily solitary creatures that are quite content in their own company and hardly seek out companions.
Both sexes come together only during the breeding season, after which they part their ways yet again, leading their different lives. The males are aggressive towards each other.
Are Hercules Beetles good climbers?
Yes. The legs of the Hercules Beetles are designed in order to help them climb the branches of trees quite adeptly. Hence, they are good climbers.
Can Hercules Beetles fly?
Born with two sets of wings, the Hercules Beetles are able flyers. However, they only use one set of wings for flying.
How many horns do the Hercules Beetles have?
Hercules Beetles have two horns, an upper and a lower horn.
Are the Hercules Beetles nocturnal?
Yes, the adult Hercules Beetles are nocturnal as well as crepuscular insects that are primarily active during the night. Their activities are at the peak at the break of the dawn or twilight; a mechanism devised to protect them from their mostly diurnal predators.
Can Hercules Beetles produce sound?
The Hercules Beetles are mostly quiet creatures, except for their sound when they feel threatened or surprised.
Under such circumstances, these beetles produce a “huffing” or “hissing” sound generated by rapidly rubbing their abdomen against their elytra. This movement is known as “stridulation”. By producing this sound, these beetles try to warn off their predators.
How can you distinguish between a male and a female Hercules Beetle?
The most significant difference between the male and female Hercules Beetles is their horn. While the males possess these horns, their female counterparts lack it.
What do Hercules Beetles eat?
Like all the other beetles, the Hercules Beetles are strict herbivores as well.
The main diet of the adults consists of both fresh as well as rotting fruits in the wild. When kept in captivity as pets, these beetles are most commonly fed apples, pears, peaches, grapes, etc.
What is the natural habitat of the Hercules Beetles?
In the wild, the Hercules Beetles are known to inhabit the mountainous as well as lowland rainforests.
When in their larval stage, the Hercules Beetles live in their burrows made in the ground. However, after growing up, they live among the leaves of the trees.
How do the Hercules Beetles communicate with each other?
The primary means of communication between the Hercules Beetles is chemoreception, a process in which their sensory receptor cells release a chemical substance to send a message to one another.
During the mating season, the males communicate with the females through sexual pheromones.
Is the species of Hercules Beetles endangered or threatened?
Although the conservation status of the Hercules Beetles is not known as of now, their natural habitat is under threat, which could mean that their population would soon be facing the dangers of extinction if they aren’t already.
At what age do the Hercules Beetles mature sexually?
Both the male as well as female Hercules Beetles attain sexual maturity between the age of 15 to 22 months.
Who are the predators of the Hercules Beetles?
The list of the predators of the Hercules Beetles stretches quite long, including a large number of birds and small mammals, including bats, raccoons, skunks, rats, etc.
When does the breeding season of the Hercules Beetles begin and end?
We have little knowledge of the breeding season of the Hercules Beetles in the wild. However, for the ones in captivity, the breeding season is associated with the rain. These beetles usually breed in the rainy season, beginning in July and ending around December.
Describe the mating behavior of the male Hercules Beetles.
The male Hercules Beetles are highly competitive with one another, particularly during the breeding season.
In the breeding season, they engage in intense combat as a courtship ritual, and the winner has the mating rights on the females. They always use their horns when fighting each other. This has been observed both in the captive beetles as well as the ones that live in the wild.
How many eggs does the female Hercules Beetle lay at a time?
The female Hercules Beetles lays about a hundred eggs at once. However, soon after laying them, the female leaves them unattended, returning to its normal lifestyle.
Where does the female Hercules Beetle lay its eggs?
The female Hercules Beetles usually lays its eggs either directly on the ground or inside a log or a fallen wood lying on the ground.
Describe the lifecycle of the Hercules Beetles.
After the process of mating is over, the female Hercules Beetles go through a gestation period of 30 days after which they lay about 100 eggs. Once the eggs have been laid, they take about 27 days of incubation after which they hatch.
The next stage of their life is the larval stage, in which these beetles remain for the majority of their life (as long as 2 years at times). The grubs go through 3 stages of metamorphosis before becoming a pupa.
The first stage is about 46 days, the second one about 50 days long, and the third one is the longest and lasts for about 450 days.
After passing through all the 3 stages of metamorphosis, the grubs enter the pupal stage, where they remain for the next 32 days, after which they grow into adults.
What do the Hercules Beetle grubs look like?
The Hercules Beetle grubs are much larger as well as heavier than their adult form, a fact that fascinates most people. They can weigh up to 120 grams, which is roughly four times the weight of the grown adult male.
The grubs have a thick, tubular body that is a pale shade of yellowish-white in color. Their body appears to be divided into a large number of rings, although it is joined together sturdily. There are a series of small brown spots on one side of their body. They have a dark brown head with an indication of small legs emerging from its sides.
What do the Hercules Beetle grubs eat?
The larvae of the Hercules Beetles, which are also known as “grubs”, are saproxylophagous in nature, a term that refers to creatures that tend to live in, and feed on, rotting or decaying wood. That is why, for the first two years of their lives, when they are yet to mature into adults, the larvae feed on rotting wood.
Do Hercules Beetles have any cultural significance?
Yes, Hercules Beetles are believed to symbolize strength in the Japanese culture. The Japanese also consider these beetles to be the harbingers of good fortune, which is why they are commonly kept as pets in Japan.
Do Hercules Beetles bite or sting?
Although the Hercules Beetles might seem terrifying due to their large horns, these creatures are quite harmless. Their horns cannot be used for stinging, gouging, or biting.
Do the Hercules Beetles change their color?
Yes, a number of Hercules Beetles subspecies are known for changing their color. While there is no universally accepted reason for it as of now, there several potential theories behind it.
One of them is camouflage; these beetles mostly turn darker during the night, which could be seen as a trick to blend in their dark background and hide from any danger.
Another theory is that they turn dark to absorb heat during the night, and turn lighter in the warm day when they need to give off heat. Humidity is also believed to play a role in their color change, but it is difficult to say for sure.
Can Hercules Beetles harm humans?
Although most people, especially children, are terrified at the sight of these beetles with their large horns, the Hercules Beetles have not been known to harm humans in any way.
Do humans eat Hercules Beetles?
Although the idea of eating beetles seems repulsive to you, there are many developing countries where these insects, along with the others, are consumed by humans.
People prefer to eat beetles in their larval form and not when they are fully grown. However, there is little data about the consumption of the Hercules Beetles in particular.
Do Hercules Beetles make good pets?
Although they have not been domesticated yet, the Hercules Beetles make great pets. They are easy to care for and can thrive when you take good care of them. In Asian countries, these beetles are very popular as pets.
How do the Hercules Beetles benefit the environment?
The Hercules Beetle grubs contribute to the ecosystem of the rain forests by eating the rotting wood due to the saproxylophagous nature. The consumption of the rotting wood helps in biodegradation and leads to the cycling of nutrients in the ecosystem.
Conclusion: Hercules Beetles Facts
Known for their immense strength and the two horns protruding out of their heads, the Hercules Beetles are one of the magnificent beetle species.
Although their horns lend them a somewhat scary appearance, these little beetles are real sweethearts and never harm humans.
Native to the Americas, these beetles are popular all over the world as an exotic pet.
Although their population has not suffered any major decline yet, mass deforestation and water pollution are significant threats to their existence in the near future.