What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Iridescent Rhino Horn Bug in upstate New York
Location: Hudson, New York
August 7, 2011 4:42 pm
I found this on my back steps here in upstate New York.
I can’t find it on the internet.
What is it?
Is it out of it’s normal range?
Where does it usually live?
Signature: Rob

Rainbow Scarab

Hi Rob,
This beautiful beetle is a Dung Beetle commonly called a Rainbow Scarab,
Phanaeus vindex.  Only the male has a horn.  Dung Beetles often work in pairs collecting dung and rolling it into a ball to be buried after laying a single egg.  The Dung provides food for the larva.  According to BugGuide, this is the range of the Rainbow Scarab:  “Mexico; USA: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.”
Hi Dan,
Thanks for the ID.
Is it indigenous to upstate NY?  If not where is it common?
Thanks,
Rob

Though we do get more reports from the southern states, New York is well within the range of the Rainbow Scarab.  Only the males have horns.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: New York
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6 Responses to Rainbow Scarab

  1. Cheryl James says:

    I am studying Entomology. I would like to know, what is the purpose of the horn on a male Phanaeus Vindex, Rainbow Scarab? Thank you, Cheryl James

    • bugman says:

      We are sorry, but we do not know why the horn on the male Rainbow Scarab evolved, nor do we know what purpose it serves. We can make a guess, but we are pretty certain you do not want a guess, but here it goes anyways. Birds prey upon insects and being able to avoid being eaten by a bird would be an advantage in survival. Birds cannot chew, so birds must either be able to pull apart larger prey or to swallow smaller prey whole. The horn would make it difficult to swallow a male Rainbow Scarab whole, increasing its chances of survival. Again, that is just a guess.

  2. Lindsey Hughes says:

    Hi… I was wondering if anyone may know where I might be able to purchase live rainbow scarabs. I’m not able to find any site online that sells them. Could there be a reason for this, or am I just not looking in the right place? If anyone has any suggestions on legitimate sites that sell live insects, including the rainbow scarab, please let me know… I would appreciate this so much! 🙂

  3. Anthony Osborn says:

    We have one in wichita kansas. My dog had it in his mouth. The horn freaked me out cause I didn’t know if it hurt my dog.

    • bugman says:

      The Rainbow Scarab is harmless, though if your dog decided to swallow a male Rainbow Scarab, the horn might stick in the dog’s throat.

      • Anthony Osborn says:

        Thank you. It was dead when we found it. I placed in a zip lock bag, cause it’s so beautiful I thought we could take some cool pictures with it. It’s all intact.

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