Ox Beetle: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide

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The Ox Beetle is a fascinating insect worth exploring for its unique characteristics and role in nature. These beetles, which can be found in various parts of the world, are known for their impressive size, distinctive horns, and contribution to the ecosystem.

Ox Beetles belong to the family Scarabaeidae and are particularly known for their mesmerizing appearance. They are equipped with horns that serve various purposes, such as defense and competition for mates. Additionally, these beetles play a vital role as decomposers, breaking down organic matter and returning nutrients to the soil.

One interesting fact about Ox Beetles is their sexual dimorphism, wherein males and females exhibit distinct physical features. Males have larger and more prominent horns, while females have relatively smaller ones. This distinction helps these beetles in their reproductive success as they navigate their environment and serve as pollinators for various plants.

Ox Beetle Basics


The Ox Beetle belongs to the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Hexapoda, and Order Coleoptera. Within the Order Coleoptera, these beetles are in the Suborder Polyphaga and are part of the Superfamily Scarabaeoidea1.

Distribution and Habitat

Ox Beetles can be found in various regions across North and Central America, including the United States, Mexico, and some Caribbean islands. They typically inhabit forests, grasslands, and gardens, where they feed on decaying organic matter2.

Physical Characteristics

  • Size: Adult Ox Beetles generally measure between 30 and 45mm in length3.
  • Appearance: These beetles possess a dark brown or black coloration and exhibit prominent horns on their heads, resembling those of an ox4.

Comparison of Male and Female Ox Beetles:

Attribute Male Female
Horns Longer, more pronounced horns Shorter, less distinct horns
Body Shape Slightly larger and more robust Smaller and more streamlined

Life Cycle and Reproduction


  • Females lay eggs
  • Eggs hatch into larvae

Female ox beetles lay eggs, which eventually hatch into larvae.

Larval Stage

  • Stage of development after hatching
  • Commonly called “mealworms”

After hatching, the larvae, often called “mealworms,” begin their development.

Pupal Stage

  • Transformation from larva to adult
  • Doesn’t feed or move much

In the pupal stage, larvae transform into adults. During this stage, they don’t feed or move much.

Adult Stage

  • Male and female differences
  • Males have horns; females don’t

Once they become adults, male Strategus aloeus develop horns, while female ox beetles don’t have any.

Comparison table of male and female ox beetles:

Feature Male Ox Beetle Female Ox Beetle
Horns Yes No
Size Larger Smaller
Mating role Court females Lay eggs
  • Mating: male courts female
  • Reproduction: sexual reproduction

In the adult stage, male beetles court females for mating. Both beetles reproduce sexually, combining sperm from the male and eggs from the female.

Diet and Feeding Habits

The Ox beetle, also known as Strategus aloeus, is a type of rhinoceros beetle found in southern regions of North America. These beetles exhibit interesting feeding habits throughout their life stages, which include larvae, pupae, and adult beetles.

The larvae of Ox beetle, also known as “white grubs,” primarily feed on decaying wood and roots of plants. Their diet includes:

  • Decaying wood
  • Plant roots
  • Sometimes fruits

The adult beetles, on the other hand, are fond of fruits, flowers, and leaves, which offer them nourishment. Some common food sources for adult Ox beetles are:

  • Nectar from flowers
  • Fruits like apples and pears
  • Leaves of various plants

It’s important to note that these beetles do not pose a significant threat to plants or crops, as their feeding habits are not usually destructive.

For those who might be considering Ox beetles as pets, it is crucial to understand their dietary requirements. In captivity, pet owners should provide them with fruits, vegetables, and a source of protein like insects or beetle jelly. Example of a suitable diet for pet Ox beetles:

  • Apple slices
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Mealworms or crickets
  • Beetle jelly

Here’s a comparison table for Ox beetles versus Elephant beetles in terms of size and color:

Feature Ox Beetle Elephant Beetle
Size 1 – 2.5 inches 2 – 4.7 inches
Adult Color Dark brown Dark brown or black
Larvae (Grubs) White/Cream-colored Similar to Ox beetle

To sum up, Ox beetles demonstrate diverse feeding habits throughout their life cycle, with the larvae feeding on decaying wood and plant roots, while the adults consume fruits, flowers, and leaves. In captivity, pet owners should provide a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and a source of protein for the beetles to thrive.

Ox Beetle as Pests

Damage to Gardens and Lawns

Ox Beetles, native to Central and South America, can sometimes be found in the southern United States due to their distribution range. These insects are known to cause damage to gardens and lawns. They primarily affect properties in their adult stage, which ranges from 1 to 2.5 inches in length. Some examples of damage include:

  • Burrowing into soil, disrupting plant roots
  • Feeding on garden flowers and leaves

It’s essential to monitor their habitat and deal with Ox Beetles as pests, as severe damage could be inflicted on gardens and lawns.

Prevention and Control

To prevent and control Ox Beetle infestations, consider the following methods:

  • Monitor: Keep an eye on your garden and lawn for signs of burrowing or damage to plants
  • Physical Removal: Handpick and remove adult beetles when discovered
  • Mite Introduction: Introduce mites that feed on Ox Beetle larvae, reducing their population

Please note that Ox Beetles are not poisonous and have a distinct yellowish elytra appearance. Be cautious when dealing with these pests while maintaining the health of your garden and lawn.

Ox Beetle Care and Pet Keeping

Suitable Environment

Ox beetles thrive in moist pine forests, so it’s essential to recreate this environment for pet beetles. Keep their enclosure humidity levels high and provide plenty of leaf litter and decaying wood. Make sure the enclosure has adequate ventilation to avoid mite infestations. A few key requirements:

  • High humidity
  • Leaf litter and decaying wood
  • Good ventilation

Feeding Requirements

Ox beetles are similar to dung beetles, and their diet primarily consists of decaying organic matter. Feed your pet beetles a mix of fruits, vegetables, and a protein source, like fish flakes or dog food. Provide their food in small amounts, and remove any uneaten food after 24 hours.

  • Decaying organic matter
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Protein (e.g., fish flakes, dog food)

Molting and Growth Monitoring

Monitor your ox beetles’ growth by observing their molting stages. Minor males molt less frequently than major males. Keep molting beetles in a separate, stress-free environment, with moist substrate and no disturbance.

  • Observe molting stages
  • Minor males molt less frequently
  • Stress-free environment during molting

Here’s a comparison table for minor and major males’ molting:

Feature Minor Males Major Males
Molting Frequency Less Frequent More Frequent
Required Space Smaller Larger

Always handle your pet beetles gently and individually, giving them the care they need to grow and stay healthy. By providing the right environment, diet, and care during molting, ox beetles can make interesting and low-maintenance pets.

Interesting Facts and Trivia

One fascinating beetle, the Ox Beetle or Eastern Hercules Beetle (Strategus aloeus), is a type of rhinoceros beetle often found in the southern United States to Mexico1. Here are a few interesting facts:

  • Major males of this species display an impressive thorax with horns, used in battles with other beetles1. Females lack horns.
  • They are nocturnal creatures, coming out to search for food and mates during the night1.

Comparison between Ox Beetle and Hercules Beetle:

Features Ox Beetle Hercules Beetle
Horns Major males only Both males and females
Size 35-50mm2 50-180mm2
Location Southern US to Mexico North, Central, South America3

Some features of the Ox Beetle:

  • Can fly, with strong wings
  • Usually dark brown or black in color

A few characteristics of their behavior:

  • Attracted to lights at night
  • Burrow in rotting wood or compost

An example of ox beetle identification between genders:

  • Male: Horn on head and thorax
  • Female: No horns

Although often mistaken as dangerous, ox beetles are not known to attack humans. If observed, people can appreciate their beauty and understand their ecological importance without fear.


  1. https://inaturalist.org/taxa/126220-Strategus-alexei 2 3 4
  2. https://bugguide.net/node/view/5040 2 3
  3. http://www.fossilmuseum.net/science/Scarabaeidae/Strategus-alexei-factsheet.htm 2
  4. https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/337556002


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Jose R, Medina
    May 12, 2015 10:21 pm

    Strategus oblongus (male)- Puerto Rico and Hispaniola- “Escarabajo Rinoceronte” (Puertorican Rhino Beetle)

  • Omg both times I visited my mother in PR last year, I had this very same type of beetle hit me on the side of my head, while sitting on her porch. Both times I freaked out and both times I slapped it away and it hit the ground. They were roughly 3” wide. That’s right I said wide.


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