The Eastern Hercules Beetle is a much respected and sought out insect to both bug enthusiasts and entomologists. From egg to larvae to pupae to adult, this relative of such large bugs as the Dung, June, and Japanese beetles, is a fascinating specimen. Unlike most of his cousins, however, the Hercules Beetle is not considered a pest, as he forages primarily on decaying and rotten vegetation as opposed to vulnerable crops and grasses.
The larvae of the Hercules Beetle can be found within the rotten trunks of trees, and also within fallen logs. This larvae can be up to 4 ½ inches in length, with sizable chewing mouthparts. The Hercules Beetle is a rather reclusive creature, and he is very rarely detected without the use of ultraviolet light technology. Those seeking Hercules Beetle specimens can be found wandering the decaying remnants of failed orchards, equipped with ultraviolet lights, white sheets, and collection containers.
The larvae is as tasty and enticing to natural scavengers as any other white grub is, and mammals of many types drive themselves crazy trying to move and dig through rotten wood in order to win a little taste. He has other natural enemies as well, in the form of spiders, centipedes, and a couple varieties of beetle eating parasites. The larvae stage for the Hercules Beetle can last as long as two years, should he survive his natural predators. Once the proper nutritional density and weight has been met, the larvae with settle into a short pupation state, usually lasting an average of three weeks.
Though the metamorphosis to adulthood is complete, the adult Hercules Beetle will remain burrowed until the following spring or early summer. At this point, they immerge as either male or female, and begin their duty of helping with the decomposition of failing plant life. The male has horns, and the female does not. The molts of these bugs are a common collector’s item amongst insect enthusiasts, as they are so rare and sizable.
It is rather difficult to attain success with the private development of the Hercules Beetle, though many attempts have uncovered some invaluable information regarding the species. Entomologists have raised larvae to adulthood for research purposes, but the adult Hercules Beetle has very private eating habits and rarely survives captivity. The most common specimens today are dead ones, mounted and dipped in alcohol to retain the beautiful, natural color and markings of the live creature.
The size of the male Hercules Beetle’s horns is determined by how much nutrition he absorbed while in the larvae stage. The males use their horns in battle, where the go head to head for the right to mate available females. This is not a fight to the death, but these amazingly strong beetles will continue to pick each other up and push one another around until one is more exhausted than the other.