Beetles don’t necessarily make the most exhilarating pets out there, but they do have some fascinating aspects. As an insect lover, you probably already know the value of growing large species of beetles, like the Hercules that we will be talking about today.
If you’ve looked into the matter and decided that the Hercules beetle is a perfect choice, you should know that the species comes with unique particularities. Beetles undergo a vastly different life cycle compared to other insects like Mantids or butterflies. Although they require minimum maintenance, ensuring optimal environmental conditions is key to boost their growth and health over time.
Here are the key features of a Hercules beetle from conception to adult:
Hercules Beetle Natural Habitat
The Hercules beetle has a large distribution area, including Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Southern Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc. Pretty much anywhere, it can find a humid and warm environment with moist, soft, and nourishing soil. That’s because this is how the Hercules beetle will spend most of its lifetime – buried underground, undergoing several growth phases over more than a year.
It’s not difficult to replicate its habitat, and it’s even easier to maintain in the long run since the beetle doesn’t need much besides its basic survival necessities. This includes constant temperature, moderate to higher-than-normal humidity levels, nutritious soil, and plenty of food opportunities. That’s what they usually get from the rainforests where their species thrive in the wild.
Hercules Beetle Characteristics
Although they are part of the same species, beetles are vastly different in size, appearance, and behavior, with many similarities as well. Learning the differences between male and female, a pupa and an adult, and a healthy adult compared to a sick one is crucial for a beetle owner.
Here are some of the core characteristics of the Hercules beetle that you should remember:
The Hercules beetle is among the biggest species out there. A fully grown male can reach 5-6 inches in length with massive head horns and a robust and meaty body. You can easily distinguish between genders via several visual cues.
The females, for instance, lack the head horns that are the most prominent male feature you can find. There are also differences in color. The female tends to be not only smaller in size but with different color shades as well.
They have dark, brown, and yellow nuances to accompany their smaller, hairier bodies. On the other hand, Males have yellow backs with dark spots and are smooth with no hair growth. There’s no way you can mistake the two as it generally happens with other insects.
There are also differences between the members of this species depending on their geographical location.
– Size & Growth
The Hercules beetle can grow to impressive proportions during the larvae phase. The largest known Hercules beetle measured approximately 7.1 inches which was a world record at that time. However, your regular household beetle won’t reach those proportions, although I’m sure you’d like that.
Regular Hercules beetles reach 1.9 to 3.1 inches. As a beginner growing your first generation of Hercules beetles, you could probably grow a 5-6-inch monster with enough commitment, knowledge, and accumulated expertise. A professional with numerous generations of beetles under his belt will probably get 6-inch beetles and above more regularly.
Hercules beetles, like all members of its species, is a nocturnal animal. It likes solitude, it’s generally peaceful, and it only becomes aggressive and confrontational in the presence of another male.
The mating season, in particular, is an excellent opportunity for the Hercules beetle to showcase its horn-fighting abilities. You can hold it without fear of getting bit, but good luck holding one down.
The Hercules beetle is most passionate about its mating privileges. That’s when the beetle will display its aggressive nature, including when dealing with trespassers into its territory. The fighting usually aims to intimidate since beetles cannot hurt or kill each other due to their thick head armor and protected bodies.
– Life Cycle
Everything begins with a female beetle laying its eggs. That’s how most love stories begin, I’m told. The truth is that the general population knows very little about this beetle species’ life cycle since everything occurs underground.
Only scientists have been able to figure out this insect’s growth cycle. It turns out that the eggs will hatch a month after being laid, resulting in a larva that will immediately start eating. The larva undergoes 2 molting phases and turns into a pupa over a year.
The pupa will then result into an adult beetle approximately 30 days later. The adult will typically live 1 more year in the wild or 3 to 6 months in captivity, during which its life purpose is to mate and spread its genes.
Hercules Beetle Care
Now that you know some of the facts, the next logical question is – How do you make use of these facts to care for the Hercules beetle? While the beetle doesn’t require too much maintenance, you still need to get some things right to ensure you get a healthy beetle population. Some of these things include:
– Diet & Nutrition
All beetles eat pretty much the same thing, which is dead organic matter. The larvae will generally consume decaying or rotten tree trunks, some of which include Chrysobalanaceae, Phyllanthaceae, or Fabaceae.
I recommend getting some flake soil to provide your larvae with a nutritious growing environment. The adult beetle will often consume rotten fruits on the ground and is capable of consuming a lot of them.
They have been observed in laboratory conditions to eat even 24 hours without stopping. Bananas, apples, mango, ananas – they will devour everything they can find, so long as it’s in a juicy, rotten state.
The first thing to note when talking about housing is the growing environment. You will obviously not keep the larvae in your backyard but in close containers, providing them with the humidity, warmth, and oxygen, they need to grow and develop normally.
I recommend keeping one larva in one container, which should fit all of its needs in terms of space, nutrition, and environmental conditions. A 1-gallon container should suffice for a female beetle, while males might require one 4 to 5 times the size.
It’s not to say that you can’t grow multiple grubs in the same container, it’s just that they won’t physically grow as much. It has been observed that the biggest beetles come from single-housing instances.
The living environment should remain within specific temperature and humidity parameters to provide the larvae with the ideal living conditions. The temperature should be between 65 to 77 °F, while the humidity should revolve around 50 to 70%.
This means you need to spray their habitat occasionally to ensure optimal humidity levels. This will keep the soil moist so that the larvae can move and feed with ease.
– Health Problems
There are no health problems associated with the beetle that you can look for. If the food isn’t optimal, the larva will not grow as big, resulting in a smaller adult beetle. The same goes for humidity and temperature fluctuations.
If the larva dies, then you must’ve really screwed up some of these factors. So long as you stick to the optimal indications, provide the larvae with optimal living conditions, and give it room to grow, everything should be fine.
The adult beetle is ready to reproduce soon after emerging from the pupa. If you want to get the best adult beetles out there, I suggest picking the largest pair available.
This doesn’t guarantee that the resulting beetle will achieve the same dimensions or outgrow them, but it will definitely be a step in the right direction. After the beetles have finished their romantic date, the female will need the proper environment to lay its eggs and begin the new larvae cycle.
The Hercules beetle isn’t that much different than others in its species. It requires warmth, a humid environment, and plenty of rotten food. Other than that, all you have to do is wait for the adult beetle to emerge from the soil once it’s ready.
To close the article with style, here are some facts to consider relating to this species of beetles:
- Larvae need privacy – I understand you might grow curious about your larvae’s activity underground, but I advise against disturbing its peace. You could hurt or even kill it in the process, rendering all your efforts up until that point futile. And causing you a lot of money. Just pay attention to their growth cycle, keep a calendar, and see how it goes. If everything goes well, you should see movement soon. That should tell you that the larva is alive, and you don’t need any more information than that.
- The better the food, the bigger the horn – The size of a male’s horn indicates the quality and amount of food available during the larva phase. The beetle’s overall size also falls under the same umbrella. If you want a majestic 6-inch beetle with royal horns, I suggest feeding the larva properly during the development phase. Aside from the careful gene selection prior to the reproduction phase.
- Hercules beetles change color – Normally, male beetles have a light back with darker spots sprinkled everywhere. Their color changes, however, to darker shades when the environmental humidity is higher. That usually occurs when they dig into the soil or bury themselves in rotten wood for a while. Their normal colors will return as soon as they will dry out.
- You can get “unnaturally” big beetles – There are professional breeders who know how to get the most out of their Hercules beetles. Some of them sell enormous specimens, which will also come with higher costs. If your entire life’s goal is to get the biggest beetle, you can find, speak to a professional breeder and get yourself a big, impressive healthy pair to mate.
If you still have doubts or questions, fill the contact form or comment in the section below, and I will address them asap.Beetles