Hercules beetle (
Dynastes hercules, Dynastinae) is a species of
rhinoceros beetle native to the rainforests of Central America, South
America, and the Lesser Antilles, and is the longest extant species
of beetle in the world, and is also one of the largest flying
insects in the world.
4 Distribution and habitat
5 Life cycle
6 Diet and behaviour
6.3 Physical strength
7 Relationship to humans
9 External links
The beetle is named after Hercules, a hero of classical mythology
famed for his great strength.
D. hercules has a complex taxonomic history and has been known by
several synonyms. It is in the subfamily
beetles) in the larger family
Scarabaeidae (commonly known as scarab
beetles). Not counting subspecies of D. hercules, seven other species
are recognised in the genus Dynastes.
Several subspecies of D. hercules have been named, though still
some uncertainty exists as to the validity of the named taxa.
Dynastes hercules ecuatorianus Ohaus, 1913
Dynastes hercules hercules (Linnaeus, 1758)
Dynastes hercules lichyi Lachaume, 1985
Dynastes hercules morishimai Nagai, 2002
Dynastes hercules occidentalis Lachaume, 1985
Dynastes hercules paschoali Grossi & Arnaud, 1993
Dynastes hercules reidi Chalumeau, 1977 (= baudrii Pinchon, 1976)
Dynastes hercules septentrionalis Lachaume, 1985 (= tuxtlaensis Moron,
Dynastes hercules takakuwai Nagai, 2002
Dynastes hercules trinidadensis Chalumeau & Reid, 1995 (= bleuzeni
Silvestre and Dechambre, 1995)
Adult body sizes vary between 50 and 85 mm in length and 29 and
42 mm in width, though male
Hercules beetles may reach up to
17.5 cm in length (including the horn), making them the
longest species of beetle in the world. The size of this horn is
naturally very variable; more so than any variation of the size of
legs, wings, or overall body size in the species. This variability
results from developmental mechanisms that couple genetic
predisposition with nutrition, stress, exposure to parasites, and/or
The body of males is black with the exception of the elytra, which can
have shades of olive-green. They have a black suture with sparsely
distributed black spots elsewhere on the elytra. D. hercules is
highly sexually dimorphic, with only males exhibiting the
characteristic horn. They have a slightly iridescent colouration to
their elytra, which varies in colour between specimens and may be
affected by the humidity of the local environment in which they
develop. At low humidity the elytra are olive-green or yellow in
colour, but darken to black at higher humidity due to changes in light
Females of D. hercules have punctured elytra which are usually
entirely black, but sometimes have the last quarter coloured in the
same way as the males.
Distribution and habitat
Populations of D. hercules may be found from southern Mexico south to
Bolivia in mountainous and lowland rainforests. Known populations
include the Lesser Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Ecuador,
Colombia, and Peru. Chromosomal analysis has shown that the genus
Dynastes in fact originated from South America.
Larva of D. hercules
Not much is known about the life cycle in the wild, but much evidence
has been gained through observations of captive-bred populations.
Females of D. hercules may lay up to 100 eggs on the ground or on dead
wood. Once hatched, the larval stage of the
Hercules beetle may
last up to two years in duration, with the larva growing up to
4.5 in (11 cm) in length and weighing more than 100 g. The
larvae, which are coloured yellow with a black head, undergo three
instars. In laboratory conditions at 25 ± 1°C, the first stage lasts
an average of 50 days, the second stage an average of 56 days, and the
third an average of 450 days. The pupal stage lasts about 32 days,
while adults can live for three to six months in captivity.
The mating season for adults typically occurs during the rainy season
(July to December). Females have an average gestation period of 30
days from copulation to egg-laying. Male
typically use their large horns to settle mating disputes; these
fights can cause significant physical damage to the combatants.
During fights, the males attempt to grab and pin their rival between
the cephalic and thoracic horns to lift and throw them. The successful
male wins mating rights with the female, though the beetles remain
Diet and behaviour
The larva of the
Hercules beetle feeds on rotting wood during its
two-year larval stage. The adult
Hercules beetle feeds on fresh and
rotting fruit. They have been observed feeding on peach, pear,
apple, and grape in captivity.
Within their native rainforest habitats, larvae reside in decaying
wood, and the adult beetles, which are nocturnal, forage for fruit at
night and hide or burrow within the leaf litter during the day.
The adult D. hercules beetles are capable of creating a 'huffing'
sound, generated by stridulating their abdomen against their elytra to
serve as a warning to predators.
Like most insects, communication within the species is a mix of
chemoreception, sight, and mechanical perception. Experiments on D.
hercules have shown that a male placed in the vicinity of a female
will immediately orient towards her and seek her out, suggesting
chemical communication through strong sexual pheromones.
Reports suggest the
Hercules beetle is able to carry up to 850 times
its body mass, but actual measurements on a much smaller (and
relatively stronger: see square-cube law) species of rhinoceros beetle
shows a carrying capacity only up to 100 times their body mass, at
which point they can barely move.
Relationship to humans
D. hercules does not negatively affect human activities, either as an
agricultural pest or disease vector. The beetles may be kept as
^ a b Huang, J. (2016). "Parapatric genetic introgression and
phenotypic assimilation: testing conditions for introgression between
Hercules beetles (Dynastes, Dynastinae)". Molecular Ecology. 25 (21):
5513–5526. doi:10.1111/mec.13849. PMID 27661063.
^ a b "Largest species of beetle". Guinness World Records. Retrieved
Dynastes hercules". BioLib.cz. 2017. Retrieved
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beetles of the West Indies (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae)".
Bulletin of the University of Nebraska State Museum. 28:
^ Huang, J., Knowles, L. The species versus subspecies conundrum:
quantitative delimitation from integrating multiple data types within
a single bayesian approach in
Hercules beetles. Systematic Biology,
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^ a b c d e f Keller, O.; Cave, R. D. Cave (2016). "
Dynastes hercules (Linnaeus, 1758) (Insecta: Coleoptera:
Scarabaeidae)" (PDF). University of Florida, IFAS Extension. Retrieved
^ Lavine, L.; Gotoh, H.; Brent, C. S.; Dworkin, I.; Emlen, D. J.
(2015). "Exaggerated Trait Growth in Insects". Annual Review of
Entomology. 60: 453–472.
^ a b c Rassart, M.; Colomer, J. F.; Tabarrant, T.; Vigneron, J. P.
(2008). "Diffractive hygrochromic effect in the cuticle of the
Dynastes hercules". New Journal of Physics. 10 (3):
^ a b c Hinton, H. E.; Jarman, G. M. (1973). "Physiological colour
change in the elytra of the
Insect Physiology. 19: 533–539.
^ a b c d e f g h Toussaint, A. (2015). "
Dynastes hercules (Hercules
Beetle)" (PDF). The Online Guide to the Animals of Trinidad and Tobago
(University of West Indies). Retrieved 17 February 2018.
^ Dutrillaux B.; Dutrillaux A.-M. (2013). "A South American Origin of
Dynastes (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae) Demonstrated
by Chromosomal Analyses". Cytogenetic and Genome Research. 147:
^ Gruner L; Chalumeau F. (1977). "Biologie et élevage de
hercules en Guadeloupe (Coleoptera: Dynastidae)". Annals Societé
Entomologique (in French). 13: 613–624.
Hercules Beetles". University of Kentucky Entomology. 2008.
^ Krell, F., Krell, V. Longevity of the Western
Hercules beetle, D.
grantii Horn (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae). The Coleopterists
Bulletin, vol. 69, 2015, 1p.
^ a b Kulikowski, A. "
Animal Diversity Web.
^ Kram, R. (1996). "The Journal of Experimental Biology" (PDF). 199:
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The Breeding/Rearing of
Dynastes hercules hercules
Dynastes hercules ecuatorianus
Dynastes hercules hercules
Dynastes hercules lichyi
Dynastes hercules occidentalis