Dynastes tityus, the eastern Hercules beetle, is a species of
rhinoceros beetle that lives in the Eastern United States. The adult's
elytra are green, gray or tan, with black markings, and the whole
animal, including the male's horns, may reach 60 mm (2.4 in)
in length. The grubs feed on decaying wood from various trees.
3 Similar species
4 Ecology and life cycle
5 Taxonomy and names
6 Additional images
8 External links
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
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 United States, from
New York state,
Illinois and Indiana, south to
Florida and the Gulf of
Mexico, with eastern
Texas marking the western limit of its range.
Three of the 6 species of
Dynastes found in the
New World occur in the
United States or Mexico. While D. tityus is found in the eastern
Dynastes granti (the western Hercules beetle) occurs at
higher elevations in
Arizona and Utah, and
Dynastes hyllus is found
as far north as Tamaulipas, Mexico. D. tityus and D. granti are
very similar, and it is possible to mate them and produce viable
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
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 Carl Linnaeus, in his 1763 work
Centuria Insectorum, where it was called
Scarabaeus tityus; when
Scarabaeus was divided into smaller genera, S. tityus
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 Guide
Texas Insects. Houston, Texas: Gulf Publishing Company.
ISBN 978-0-87719-263-3. . Cite by "Eastern Hercules Beetle".
Texas A&M University. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010.
Retrieved June 17, 2010.
^ a b Jeffrey K. Barnes (July 28, 2003). "Eastern Hercules beetle".
Arthropod Museum Notes. University of Arkansas. 20. Retrieved June 17,
^ a b Stephen Cresswell. "
Dynastes tityus Hercules Beetle". Insects of
West Virginia. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010.
Retrieved June 17, 2010.
^ a b c d e f g h i j "Hercules beetles". Kentucky Insects. University
of Kentucky. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
^ Eric R. Eaton & Kenn Kaufman (2007). "Rhinoceros Beetles and
Others". Kaufman field guide to insects of North America. Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 146–147.
^ a b "
Dynastes tityus (Linnaeus, 1763)". Generic Guide to New World
Scarab Beetles. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Archived from the
original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
^ "Scarabaeidae". Nomina Insecta Nearctica. Archived from the original
on December 13, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikispecies has information related to
"Eastern Hercules Beetle".
Animal Art Along the Way. October 20,
2010. Includes an image of the postage stamp featuring D.