DYNASTES TITYUS, the eastern Hercules beetle, is a species of
rhinoceros beetle that lives in the
Eastern United States
* 1 Description * 2 Distribution * 3 Similar species
* 4 Ecology and life cycle
* 4.1 Predators
* 5 Taxonomy and names * 6 Additional images * 7 References * 8 External links
A female Dynastes tityus
Adults of both sexes are 20–27 millimeters (0.8–1.1 in) wide, and males are 40–60 millimeters (1.6–2.4 in) long, including a long horn (the pronotal horn) which projects forwards from the thorax of the male; a second horn (the clypeal horn) projects upwards from the head. Dynastes tityus is therefore "among the longest and heaviest beetles in the United States". The horns are used in battles between rival males competing for a mate; the size of the horn reflects the availability of food when the beetle was growing. Despite the size of the horns, Dynastes tityus is harmless to humans.
The elytra are green , gray , or tan , usually with black mottling . The pattern of spots is unique to each individual. Beetles that are found in the soil or in rotten wood often appear very dark, with the spots on the elytra obscured. This results from moisture which the shell has absorbed; when the elytra dry out, they return to their paler color. Occasionally, both elytra may be a uniform mahogany color, or one elytron may be pale with dark blotches, while the other is a plain mahogany color.
Dynastes tityus was featured on a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in October 1999.
D. tityus lives in the eastern and southeastern
Three of the 6 species of
Dynastes found in the
ECOLOGY AND LIFE CYCLE
Mating can last up to 50 minutes in D. tityus. Subsequent batches of eggs are oviposited in the same site until its resources are exhausted. The larvae are large C-shaped grubs with white bodies and chewing mouthparts , which feed on decaying wood and litter within rotten trees and produce distinctive rectangular fecal pellets about 10 mm (0.39 in) long. After 12–18 months, the larva pupate in late summer. Adults remain underground through the winter, initially remaining in their pupal cell. They emerge in the summer and live for 3–6 months. The adults' diet is not well known, but they have been observed lapping up the sap of ash trees.
Different predators attack different life stages of Dynastes tityus. The eggs are vulnerable to attack from a predatory mite . The grubs are eaten by mammals including skunks and raccoons , and soil-dwelling arthropods , including centipedes , ground beetles , spiders and the maggots of Mydas flies .
TAXONOMY AND NAMES
Dynastes tityus is known by a number of common names , including
eastern Hercules beetle, elephant beetle and ox beetle. It was first
given a scientific name by
Minor male from North Carolina *
Adult female from North Carolina *
A group of adults.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I B. M. Drees & John Jackman (1999). Field