What Do Eastern Hercules Beetles Eat? A Quick Guide to Their Diet

Eastern Hercules beetles are fascinating creatures that capture the attention of many insect enthusiasts. These beetles, scientifically named Dynastes tityus, are among the largest and heaviest insects in the United States. With their impressive size, nearly 3 inches long, you might wonder what these beetles eat to maintain their remarkable physique.

As a member of the Scarabaeidae family, which includes familiar insects like June beetles and Japanese beetles, Eastern Hercules beetles share several dietary preferences. In their larval stage, these beetles primarily consume decaying wood, providing an essential service by breaking down organic material and contributing to nutrient cycling in their ecosystem. However, their dietary habits tend to shift as they mature into adult beetles.

In their adult form, Eastern Hercules beetles have been known to feed on tree sap, fruit, and even decaying plant matter. While these beetles may have a diverse diet, they are not considered pests, and their feeding habits are generally non-disruptive to human activities. So, as you marvel at the wonder of these incredible bugs, you can also appreciate the vital role they play in nature.

Understanding Eastern Hercules Beetles

Eastern Hercules beetles are among the largest insects in the United States and are a part of the scarab beetle family. These fascinating creatures belong to the species Dynastes tityus, one of the most prominent hercules beetle species.

You may wonder what these giant insects eat. Eastern Hercules beetles mainly consume decaying wood during their larval stage. They break down and digest the wood, playing an essential role in recycling nutrients within the ecosystem.

Adults, on the other hand, mostly feed on fruit and tree sap. They have a preference for ripe, soft fruits like peaches and nectarines, as well as other sweet plant materials. Due to their specific diet, Eastern Hercules beetles are not considered pests, unlike some other beetle species.

Here are some features of the Eastern Hercules beetle:

  • Males can reach a length of up to 7 inches, including their long horns.
  • Females are typically smaller and lack horns.
  • They are members of the Scarabaeidae family, which includes dung beetles, June beetles, and Japanese beetles.
  • Their coloration varies, but they are usually yellowish or greenish-gray with brown to black spots.

As a comparison, the closely related Dynastes hercules, native to Central and South America, is also spectacular. This species can grow even larger than the Eastern Hercules beetle, with males often presenting more enormous horns. Both species showcase the impressive diversity and strength found within the hercules beetle family.

Now that you’re familiar with Eastern Hercules beetles and their diet, you can appreciate the role they play in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Remember, these gentle giants are harmless to humans and serve as a remarkable example of nature’s beauty and power.

Physical Characteristics

Horn and Elytra

The Eastern Hercules beetle is known for its unique physical features, such as their impressive horns and protective elytra. Males are equipped with large horns, which can be about 1/3 of their body length and can even grow longer than the rest of their body ^(1). These horns are primarily used in male-to-male combat as they fight for mating rights.

In addition to their distinct horns, both male and female Eastern Hercules beetles have strong, hardened wing covers called elytra. These shield-like structures protect their delicate wings, helping them maintain flight ability.

Sexual Dimorphism

Eastern Hercules beetles exhibit sexual dimorphism, which means that males and females have different physical characteristics. Some of the main differences include:

  • Males have large horns, while females lack these structures.
  • Males can reach a length of nearly 2½ inches, while females are typically smaller ^(2).
  • Females have different coloration patterns, with females being typically yellowish or greenish-gray, while males can exhibit different shades of colors.

Protecting their bodies is a strong exoskeleton, which is an external, hard covering that provides support and defense to their soft internal structures.

As you explore the world of Eastern Hercules beetles, you’ll notice that these fascinating insects possess unique physical characteristics that distinguish them from other beetle species. Their structure, from their large horns to their protective exoskeleton, demonstrates their adaptability to their environment.

Life Cycle and Metamorphosis

The life cycle of the Eastern Hercules beetle starts with the egg stage. The beetle remains as an egg for about 7 to 10 days before hatching into the second form, the larvae. During this stage, the grubs primarily feed on decaying wood and organic matter.

As the grubs grow, they will molt several times, shedding their exoskeleton to allow for growth. This process continues until they reach the pupal stage. It’s during this stage that the beetle will undergo metamorphosis, a complex transformation that morphs the larvae into a pupa.

The pupae stage is marked by a period of inactivity as the beetle conserves its energy for the upcoming changes. Generally, Eastern Hercules beetles pupate in late summer, forming a new exoskeleton and undergoing internal restructuring. This stage can last for a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on environmental factors.

Finally, the adult beetle emerges from the pupal case, ready to begin its final life stage. The adult beetles are strong and large, with males boasting impressive horns that they use to compete for mates. It’s worth noting that the Eastern Hercules beetle is harmless to humans, and their striking appearance only adds to their allure in the world of insects.

As a quick recap, the main stages of the Eastern Hercules beetle life cycle are:

  • Egg
  • Larvae (grubs)
  • Pupa (metamorphosis)
  • Adult

By understanding this fascinating life cycle and the metamorphosis process, you can fully appreciate the incredible transformation that these insects undergo throughout their lives.

Natural Habitats

Eastern Hercules beetles are mainly found in the eastern parts of the United States, including regions from southeastern New York south to Florida and from southern Illinois and Indiana south to the Gulf of Mexico1. They live in rainforests and wooded areas, where they find comfort in the decaying wood, soil, and vegetation.

Their natural habitats consist of:

  • Decaying wood
  • Rainforests
  • Wooded areas

Their range is limited to North America, but other similar beetle species can be found in Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Lesser Antilles. These beetles prefer living close to the ground, hiding in tree branches and underneath fallen logs.

In their habitats, they feed on decaying wood and plant matter, playing an essential role in nutrient recycling within the ecosystem. By breaking down dead wood, they help regulate the carbon cycle and promote soil regeneration.

As you explore the rainforests and wooded regions of the eastern United States, keep an eye out for these impressive insects and appreciate their significant role in maintaining the health of their habitats.

Dietary Needs

Eastern Hercules beetles have a unique diet compared to other insects. They are known as saproxylophagous, which means they feed on decaying wood, especially during their larval stage. This diet plays a crucial role in their growth and development. Let’s dive into the dietary needs of these fascinating beetles.

As larvae, they consume decaying wood, which provides them with the essential nutrients to grow and metamorphose into adults. This wood consumption helps break down dead trees and keep forests healthy. The primary source of protein during this stage comes from the wood’s microbes, such as fungi and bacteria, contributing to their development.

Moving on to the adult stage, Eastern Hercules beetles primarily feed on rotting fruits. This diet shift allows them to gain the required energy for mating and other activities. Some examples of these fruits include apples, bananas, and pears. Nonetheless, they still consume decaying wood occasionally.

Now you might wonder how these dietary choices affect their overall health. Here are some key points:

  • Larval stage diet rich in protein supports growth and development
  • Consumption of decaying wood helps maintain forest health, as they aid decomposition
  • Rotting fruits in adult stage provide necessary energy for mating and overall activity

Comparing the diet of Eastern Hercules beetles to other insects reveals some contrasts:

Insect Larval Diet Adult Diet
Eastern Hercules Beetle Decaying wood (saproxylophagous) Rotting fruits, decaying wood
Butterfly Specific host plant leaves Nectar
Ladybug Aphids, Mites Aphids, Mites, Pollen

In summary, the diet of Eastern Hercules beetles varies during their life stages, with larvae feeding on decaying wood and adults feeding on rotting fruits and occasionally wood. This diet contributes to their growth, protein intake, and overall health.

Keeping Eastern Hercules Beetles as Pets

Care and Temperament

Eastern Hercules Beetles are fascinating insects to observe due to their large size and unique appearance. To ensure their health and happiness, it’s essential to provide proper care. These beetles are typically low-maintenance and not aggressive. However, they might require attention when it comes to their habitat and nutrition.

A key aspect of their care is offering a nutritious diet. Eastern Hercules Beetles primarily feed on decaying wood and fruits, such as apples and bananas. Ensure to replace food items every few days to maintain freshness.

Cost and Containers

When considering the cost of keeping an Eastern Hercules Beetle as a pet, you should factor in both initial setup and ongoing care expenses. Initial costs include purchasing the beetle and a suitable container. The maintenance costs involve replacing food, substrate materials, and other habitat accessories.

For housing, a small plastic or glass terrarium with a secure lid works well. Keep in mind the following features for an ideal container:

  • Adequate ventilation
  • Enough space for the beetle to move around
  • Easy for you to clean and maintain

It’s crucial to include substrate in the terrarium, such as a mix of decayed wood and leaf litter, which helps them feel at home and maintain humidity levels. Make sure the substrate is a few inches deep to allow for natural burrowing behavior.

Remember to keep your Eastern Hercules Beetle’s enclosure clean and adequately humid to create a comfortable environment. By following these guidelines, you will contribute to the wellbeing and happiness of your pet beetle.

Reproduction and Mating

Eastern Hercules beetles, one of the largest insects in the United States, experience a fascinating mating process. During the courtship, male beetles quickly stroke their antennae and their front pair of legs.

This motion is intended to attract females through the release of pheromones. Pheromones play a vital role in beetle communication, being chemical signals that trigger specific behaviors, especially related to mating.

Breeding season for these impressive beetles often results in intense competition. Male Eastern Hercules beetles possess large horns, which can grow up to 1/3 of their body length. They use these horns to engage in fights with other males to gain access to the best breeding sites and increase their chances of attracting a female.

To summarize:

  • Mating is initiated through courtship involving antennae and leg strokes.
  • Pheromones released during courtship attract females.
  • Breeding season involves sexual competition among males.
  • Males use their large horns to fight for the best breeding sites.

So, when observing Eastern Hercules beetles, you will witness a captivating display of courtship and rivalry during their reproduction and mating process.

Threats and Predators

Eastern Hercules beetles are known for their impressive size and strength. While they may intimidate some, they are not without their own threats and predators.

These beetles are strong flyers, utilizing their wings to cover large distances. However, their size and flight ability don’t assure them of safety. Among their predators are:

  • Rats: Rats can dig up and eat beetle larvae from rotting logs where they grow.
  • Toads: Toads capture adult beetles with their long, sticky tongues.
  • Birds: From small insect-eating birds to larger birds like crows or hawks, these aerial predators can snatch beetles out of the air.
  • Mammals: Animals like raccoons, skunks, and bats are known to prey on beetles, taking advantage of their sheer numbers and slow-moving nature.

Along with these predators, Eastern Hercules beetles must also worry about stealthy hunters such as:

  • Grasshoppers: Although herbivores, some grasshopper species prey on smaller creatures like beetles for a protein supplement.
  • Fecal Pellets: Beetles produce rectangular fecal pellets, which may attract foraging mammals by their scent, leading predators straight to the beetles.

Even with these threats looming over them, Eastern Hercules beetles manage to display fantastic resilience and are considered relatively stable in terms of population numbers. Nonetheless, their status could change if factors like habitat destruction, pesticide use, or human encroachment escalate.

Take time to admire the fascinating and powerful Eastern Hercules beetle, understanding that even such a mighty insect must contend with threats and predators in its daily life.

Behavioral Traits

Eastern Hercules beetles have interesting behaviors. They are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night and rest during the day. You’ll likely observe them more often in the evening hours.

These beetles also exhibit stridulation, a form of communication using sound. They produce this sound by rubbing specific body parts together. This method allows them to interact with other beetles in their environment.

Eastern Hercules beetles are long-living compared to many other insects. Their lifespan easily extends beyond one year, giving you more time to observe and study their behaviors.

Here are some key behavioral traits of Eastern Hercules beetles:

  • Nocturnal
  • Communicate using stridulation
  • Long-living

By understanding these traits, you can better appreciate the unique lifestyle of these fascinating insects.

Potential Damage Caused by Beetles

Eastern Hercules beetles may appear intimidating, but they are not known to cause significant damage. However, it’s important to note some points about their behavior.

These beetles are attracted to decaying logs. They help break down decomposing organic materials, which is a crucial process in the ecosystem. So, while they might consume small portions of logs in your area, they do not ruin healthy trees or structures.

Despite their large size and formidable appearance, Eastern Hercules beetles are not aggressive towards humans. Their pincers can deliver a mild pinch, but they typically reserve it for defense against predators or other beetles during mating competitions. So, you don’t need to fear their bite.

In conclusion, the potential damage caused by Eastern Hercules beetles is relatively minimal. They play a beneficial role in breaking down dead logs but do not harm healthy trees or structures. Their pincers may look menacing, but they pose little threat to humans.

Taxonomy and Classification

The Eastern Hercules beetle (Dynastes tityus) belongs to the family Scarabaeidae and is one of the largest beetles in the United States. In this family, you can also find other well-known beetles such as the June beetles and dung beetles. The Eastern Hercules beetle shares some similarities with Dynastes granti and Dynastes hyllus, but they are distinct species.

As part of the Scarabaeidae family, these beetles were first classified by Linnaeus in 1758. The taxonomy of these beetles includes their placement within the order Coleoptera. When considering subspecies, there are a few to note, but in general, they can be grouped based on their substrate preferences.

Some key features of the Eastern Hercules beetle include:

  • Large size, with males reaching up to 7 inches in length
  • Males possessing large horns, which can measure up to 1/3 of their body length
  • Females having a more subdued appearance, lacking the impressive horns of the males

Compared to other species in the same genus, such as Dynastes granti and Dynastes hyllus, Eastern Hercules beetles exhibit some differences:

  • Eastern Hercules beetles are mainly found in the eastern United States, whereas Dynastes granti can be found in the southwestern region, and Dynastes hyllus is native to Mexico.
  • The horns of Eastern Hercules beetles can be larger and more pronounced than those of Dynastes granti and Dynastes hyllus.
  • Coloration may differ between the species, with Eastern Hercules beetles often appearing in shades of green to gray, while other species may exhibit different hues.

When it comes to their habitat, these beetles may have preferences for different substrates. For example, some subspecies might favor decaying hardwood trees, while others may prefer softer, more decomposed materials. These preferences play a key role in their classification and taxonomy.

Footnotes

  1. https://arthropod.uark.edu/eastern-hercules-beetle/

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Mutant Bug!
June 12, 2010
So we have seen this huge, mutant looking bug on the driveway 2 times now, and once at the gas station. We have no clue what it is but he is HUGE! If I had to ball park it, I would say it is atleast the size of my thumb from base to tip of fingernail! The bug is very slow moving and has these huge pincher looking things on his head. We have no idea where he lives, if there are more, or if he is harmful to humans and pets. Thank you for any insight you can offer!
Kim
Hoschton, GA

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Hi Kim,
This is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, the heaviest North American Beetle.  He is harmless to humans and pets.  Just yesterday we posted an image of a female Eastern Hercules Beetle from Tennessee.  Females lack the horns.

Letter 2 – Male and Female Eastern Hercules Beetles

 

Male and Female Hercules Beetles
Dear Bugman,
I saw this behemoth chilling out on my front porch the other night when I went out to walk the dog (she almost ate him!). He is about 3 inches long. After an extensive photo session (he was a superb model!) I immediately consulted your website and discovered him to be a male hercules beetle. Then a few evenings later I met Mr. Hercules Beetle’s wife! She was a little harder to photograph because she was spinning in circles on the pavement, but she was equally large and just as cool. Instead of big horns she has cute feathered antennae and big, buggy eyes. I know you’re an identification site and I already know what these enormous, lovely beetles are, but I just had to share my pictures and good luck in spotting them. My husband officially thinks I am nuts. I have ID’d many a bug using your web pages. Thanks for the awesome website!
Sarah Wang
Williamsburg, VA

Hi Sarah,
In many ways you are our ideal reader. You have a fondness and curiosity for the natural world, yet your background is not natural science. You have a digital camera and you know how to use it, and you are adept at web research. We have never claimed to be a legitimate scientific website, but rather, we revel in our pop culture status. Your photos of a male and female Eastern Hercules Beetle are both quite stunning, and many a collector is green with envy at your fortuitous discovery. Thank you ever so much for contributing to our website and we are pleased to hear we have been helpful in the past. By the way, tell your husband you are not nuts, but that you have an attention to detail.

Letter 3 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: Bug indentification
Location: North Carolina
July 6, 2015 2:56 pm
Hi – I was hoping you could tell me what kind of bug this is? Thank you very much!
Signature: Tom H

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Tom,
This is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle,
Dynastes tityus, the heaviest North American beetle.  We are currently featuring a pair of Eastern Hercules Beetles at the top of our homepage.

Letter 4 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Hercules Beetle
I found this late tonight in a parking lot when it flew from the darkness and latched onto my shoe. He has a mighty grip! I live in Georgia just northeast of Atlanta. Love your site! Thanks!
Travis

hi Travis,
Thanks for sending us your photo of a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus.

Letter 5 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

beautiful male eastern hercules beetle-I finally found one!
Hey bugman,
I thought I would share with you these photos of the male eastern hercules beetle i found at work here in Seymour, Tennessee (Knoxville area). I have wanted to find one of these for the longest time. Im so happy I finally did. they certainly are nice insects. It feels pretty weird when he crawls on me. this is the biggest beetle i have ever seen in this area. Anyway I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoy coming back to your site every day. blessings,
Michael Davis

Hi Michael,
We are thrilled to have your excellent photo posted to our website, but we are even more thrilled that your long awaited ambition to find an Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, has been realized.

Letter 6 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Hercules Beetle in Alpharetta GA
Saw this Hercules Beetle on my front door step the other morning. I have never seen one before and thought you might be able to use a clear picture of his back. When I gently urged him off the door step (so my wife and son would not accidentally step on him) he was noticeably hard to move and had a great grip on the door frame. Have no fear I got him to safety and haven’t seen him since. Great website.
Gabe Johnson, Alpharetta, GA

Hi Gabe,
Thanks for sending us your photograph of an Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, with the cellular phone for scale.

Letter 7 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Big Beetle
Hello.
A co-worker was greeted by this big beetle (about 4 inches long) walking to his car tonight. I was wondering if you know what kind of insect this is. Thank you very much! I also have some photos of other views and sizes if you would like any. The resolution on this is pretty good and you can zoom in on it and see the individual hairs. Thank you very much
Erica St. John

Hi Erica,
What a positively gorgeous specimen of a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus. His coloration is much paler than we generally see, and resembles the color of celadon.

Letter 8 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Yellowish/Black Huge Beetle with weird Pinchers in front
Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 9:58 AM
What is this Bug??? I am from Michigan and visiting my mom in North Carolina and see some weird, ugly, creepy insects around here but this tops the cake. My son saw it flying around outside and told my brother in law to come see it. As soon as he opened the door to come outside it flew right inside towards his face. We were freaking out! I tried to do a search of what it was but can’t seem to find out. I hope you can identify it!
Tamara, E.L., MI
Warrior Mountain, Tryon, N.C.

Eastern Hercules Beetle
Eastern Hercules Beetle

Hi Tamara,
We really wanted to make the Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, the Bug of the Month for July, but when we posted this morning, we had not received any recent images.  Your male beetle is quite spectacular, and we will be posting another letter with an image of a female Eastern Hercules Beetle which lacks the horns that also arrived today.

Eastern Hercules Beetle
Eastern Hercules Beetle

Letter 9 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

male Eastern Hercules Beetle-maybe?
July 6, 2010
Hi Bugman,
We found this beetle on the ground in a natural area in our backyard. He was just sitting there, not moving. We don’t know if he is dead or if an exoskeleton would even look like this. Looking around your great site we think it may be a male Eastern Hercules Beetle. It was found in June of this year. We are really curious what state it is in…is it real and dead or (hopefully) alive and this is just his old skin?
Can’t sleep until we know!
Charlotte, NC

Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Sleepless in Charlotte,
Your identification of this male Eastern Hercules Beetle,
Dynastes tityus, is correct.  It appears to have died.  The final molt when the beetle becomes an adult happens in the rotting wood where the larva developed.  The length of the horns of the male Eastern Hercules Beetles vary considerably from individual to individual and your individual has smaller horns than most.

Letter 10 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Large yellow beetle
Location:  lake city,south carolina
August 9, 2010 5:58 pm
Found this large beetle on my door this morning. It has a strong verticle mandible…not really visible on this photo. Want to think it is a scarab beetle, but which one? Please help as I must release him but where? Help…he is beautiful, about 1 1/2” long.
Thanks, Ellen

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Hi Ellen,
Your beautiful beetle is a scarab known as an Eastern Hercules Beetle,
Dynastes tityus, one of the Rhinoceros Beetles in the subfamily Dynastinae, and it is a male.  Females lack the horns.  Large males are considered the heaviest North American beetles.

Thank you so very much Daniel!  I am releasing him in a quiet pine wood. Good Karma to you.

Letter 11 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

large horn beetle
Location: gueydan louisiana
May 23, 2011 12:40 pm
found this bug in la. at a gas station, never seen one before.
Is it native to america , and where does it originate from, and what does it eat?
Thank you
brittany
Signature: brittany

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Brittany,
This is a native male Eastern Hercules Beetle, and it is the heaviest North American beetle.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae feed on rotting wood, adults are frugivores (some have been observed eating tree sap)” and you can probably feed it ripe fruit in captivity.

Letter 12 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

whats my bug
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
June 25, 2011 10:13 pm
hey i found this outside me work what is he
Signature: From LuLu Bug

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Lulu Bug,
This is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle,
Dynastes tityus.  He is perfectly harmless and he is considered to be the heaviest North American beetle.

Letter 13 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

big beetle
Location: Fenton, MO (St Louis)
July 9, 2011 9:22 am
Found this wonderful beetle in my garden the other day. He was very docile and easy to handle. I took a picture with a ruler to show his size. He was very photogenic and posed nicely. Any idea what species my new garden gardian is?
Signature: Thad James

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Hi Thad,
This magnificent beetle is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle,
Dynastes tityus.  The grubs develop in rotting tree stumps, so if you want to encourage them in your garden in the future, you can leave the stumps of trees in place.  The grubs are important in forested areas as they help break down the wood into humus.  Thanks for sending us your wonderful photo.

Letter 14 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Mebane, NC
June 20, 2012 3:59 pm
I found this bug in Alamance County in North Carolina. What kind of bug is it?
Signature: Heather Rogers

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Hi Heather,
Each year about this time we get several letters requesting the identification of the Eastern Hercules Beetle,
Dynastes tityus, the insect generally credited with being the heaviest North American Beetle.  This specimen is a male.  The sexes can be differentiated because the male has the horns which results in another common name for this group, the Rhinoceros Beetles.

Letter 15 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: rhinocerous beetle in delaware?
Location: smyrna de
July 27, 2012 6:58 am
correct? rare?
found dead, obviously
Signature: moliken

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear moliken,
You are correct that this is a Rhinoceros Beetle, but that name is a general name given to the members in the Scarab subfamily Dynastinae.  The more common name use for your beetle,
Dynastes tityus, is Eastern Hercules Beetle, though Rhinoceros Beetle and Unicorn Beetle are also used according to BugGuide.  Your individual is a male.  Females lack the large horns.  BugGuideincludes Delaware among the states with submissions.  While they are not considered rare, Eastern Hercules Beetles are not especially common and they can be very localized in their distribution.  Larvae depend upon rotting logs to develop within, so they are generally only found near wooded areas.

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Letter 16 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: Putting Hercules on the map!
Location: Howard County, Maryland
July 14, 2013 5:01 am
Over two years ago, we came across this beetle sitting under the car tire in the driveway. He was very mellow and interesting. His feet felt like Velcro and could cling to ANYTHING!!
We let him go in the backyard and haven’t seen another one since. 🙁
Thanks for this website! I came searching for centipedes in your gut (and think I need to call my doctor tomorrow) and found the Hercules Beetle as well.
Signature: Buggy in MD

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Buggy in MD,
Though your photo is several years old, it is quite timely since we have been getting reports of Eastern Hercules Beetles for the past few weeks.  We are sorry to hear about the Centipede in your gut.  When we first ran that posting, we were a bit amazed.

Letter 17 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: Strange looking bug!
Location: Outdoors
July 27, 2013 8:02 pm
Just wondering what type of big this is. Some friends came across it by their home!
Signature: Thanks

Eastern Hercules Beetle
Eastern Hercules Beetle

The great outdoors is such a big place.  This is an Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, the heaviest beetle in North America.

Letter 18 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: Large Yellow Beetle?
Location: Oxford, MS
June 22, 2015 11:24 am
Found this bug in Oxford, MS (north central) during the middle of the summer. It was outside on my porch. I am very curious because this is one of the biggest bugs I have ever seen. I was also wondering why I would not have seen more of them. I spotted when I was getting out of my car and about 15 yards away. Seems like I would’ve come across more like this unique bug.
Signature: Hotty Toddy

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Hotty Toddy,
The male Eastern Hercules Beetle is considered the heaviest North American beetle.

Letter 19 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: What is this
Location: Carrolton, GA, USA
June 27, 2015 5:31 am
I have no clue what this is. Please help identify. He was dead when i found him so I posed him for the photos.
Signature: The Dude

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dude,
This is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle,
Dynastes tityus.  We have been getting numerous identification requests of this species this year, so we created a featured posting that shows the difference between the horned male and hornless female Eastern Hercules Beetle.

Letter 20 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject: Beetles
Location: Monroe, NC
July 15, 2015 6:04 am
I found this amazing Beetle this morning, and although I can find pictures of it online I have YET to locate the name. Hoping you can help me.
Signature: Happily

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Happily,
We receive several identification requests for Eastern Hercules Beetles each year, but this year seems to have more than the usual number, which prompted us to feature the Eastern Hercules Beetle on our site’s banner.  Your male with his especially prominent horns is magnificent.

Letter 21 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

 

Subject:  Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Meridianville, Alabama
Date: 06/09/2018
Time: 11:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  If you ever wondered how tough these are, well, I met this one by accidentally stepping on him at a gas station!   I felt something under my foot that shouldn’t have been there — then felt it pushing back up at me!  As it turns out, I’d stunned the poor fellow, so I collected him and brought him the few miles home.  After getting these photos, I let him loose onto a tall plant on my back porch.  Apparently,  he was feeling much more spry by this point, as he clambered right to the top of the plant and promptly had to hold on for dear life as it bent over under his huge weight!  I hope he will have taken off into the nearby woods by the time sunrise comes.
How you want your letter signed:  J. R. Caldoon

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear J.R.,
Thanks so much for submitting your awesome images of a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, our first images of this species this year.  June and July are Moth, Caterpillar and Beetle months for our site, and that is the time we get most of our Northern Hemisphere images of representatives from those orders.  Thanks also for the care you took in helping to ensure that this magnificent male Hercules Beetle did not become a casualty at the gas station and for that reason, we are tagging your submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award.  The lights at gas stations often attract Moths, Beetles and other insects.  The exoskeleton of many beetles, including the Hercules Beetles, is quite resilient.

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Letter 22 – Male Eastern Hercules Beetles

 

Subject:  I want to know what kind of Rhinoceros beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Bear, DE
Date: 09/26/2021
Time: 12:57 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I found the Rhinoceros   beetles 2days in a row at my yard. But I don’t know what kind of it. I’m so curious which Rhinoceros beetle they are.
I found the first one at 9/24. It was belly up when I found it. So I thought it was dead at first. But it actually moved slowly when I poked with a mulch stick. So I took it to the tree.
This one was dark brown on the left side and there were white point on the right side and head part.
The second one had more white base and brown connected dot design.
They were both cute. Then both had the blond bangs and it was so cool.
I wanna teach my son about that beetle. But I don’t know the name. So please teach me what kind of Rhinoceros beetle.
Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Miso-sugar

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Miso-sugar,
The easiest way to avoid the confusion of duplicative common names that may differ from region to region is to call insects by their accepted scientific binomial name, and in the case of your submitted Rhinoceros Beetles, they are male
Dynastes tityus, a species with several different common names, though we most often call them Eastern Hercules Beetles.  According to BugGuide, other common names are “Rhinoceros Beetle, Unicorn Beetle” so your initial identification is also acceptable.  This species can be highly variable, and according to BugGuide they are described as:  “Huge size, greenish elytra with variable amounts of dark spots. Some are nearly black. Male has massive horns projecting forward from head and pronotum.”  This is the heaviest beetle in North America.

AKA: Rhinoceros Beetle
Another male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Letter 23 – Pair of Eastern Hercules Beetles

 

Subject: Eastern Hercules in Northern VA
Location: Falls Church, VA
July 2, 2017 9:57 pm
I live in Northern Virginia (Falls Church) and until yesterday had never seen an Eastern Hercules beetle. In 4 separate trips to my car over the last 36 hours, I have found 4 dead ones (1 female, 3 male). I’d be lying if I say it doesn’t concern me that they seem to be dropping out of the tree I park underneath…what could be killing them? (The townhouse community I live in does not spray pesticides to my knowledge) Is it normal for E. Hercules to die around the same time? Again, I’ve lived here for 12 years and have never seen an E. Hercules until now…why all of a sudden? They sure are cool, though! Hope I can see a live one soon!
Signature: Dave

Pair of Eastern Hercules Beetles (male on left)

Dear Dave,
It is disconcerting to hear about your dead Eastern Hercules Beetles.  We would expect that adults should live about six weeks, and July is the month with most sightings on BugGuide, so we are guessing the deaths you have encountered are probably premature.  Populations of different insects do vary over time, which might explain why you have never encountered Eastern Hercules Beetles previously.

Letter 24 – Watch out for Eastern Hercules Beetles in the south

 

Ed. Note:  Since we just received these two inquiries that depict the male and the female Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, we decided to feature a posting that would inform our readers that this magnificent beetle is currently being sited in the eastern portions of North America, so stay vigilant.

Subject: Large Yellow Beetle?
Location: Oxford, MS
June 22, 2015 11:24 am
Found this bug in Oxford, MS (north central) during the middle of the summer. It was outside on my porch. I am very curious because this is one of the biggest bugs I have ever seen. I was also wondering why I would not have seen more of them. I spotted when I was getting out of my car and about 15 yards away. Seems like I would’ve come across more like this unique bug.
Signature: Hotty Toddy

Male Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear Hotty Toddy,
The male Eastern Hercules Beetle is considered the heaviest North American beetle.

Subject: Beetle I’m Effingham County, Georgia
Location: Effingham County, Georgia
July 3, 2015 4:40 pm
I would appreciate assistance in identifying this beetle found in Effingham County, Georgia. Thank you.
Signature: William R.

Female Eastern Hercules Beetle
Female Eastern Hercules Beetle

Dear William,
We are really excited to get your image of a female Eastern Hercules Beetle because we just posted an image of a horny male Eastern Hercules Beetle.
  We are going to create a new featured posting with both inquiries combined.  You can get better images in the future by keeping the shadow of the cellular telephone out of the shot by slightly moving your body relative to the sun.

Female Eastern Hercules Beetle in the shadow of a cellular telephone.
Female Eastern Hercules Beetle in the shadow of a cellular telephone.

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    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.

  • 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.

12 thoughts on “What Do Eastern Hercules Beetles Eat? A Quick Guide to Their Diet”

  1. Hey Bugman – We live in Virginia and believe it or not, my son got a Hercules beetle for Christmas 🙂 Found by my sister, assumed deceased. Do these guys “play dead” as a defense mechanism?

    Reply
  2. Hi Guys! This was my little guy. I haven’t seen another since, although I’m sure they’re here. 🙂
    I do have a great pic of a centipede I will send you.
    Still loving your site. Thank you for all your hard work in educating people about our wonderful creatures of the world. Sincerely, Rebecca Brett

    Reply
  3. Hi Guys! This was my little guy. I haven’t seen another since, although I’m sure they’re here. 🙂
    I do have a great pic of a centipede I will send you.
    Still loving your site. Thank you for all your hard work in educating people about our wonderful creatures of the world. Sincerely, Rebecca Brett

    Reply
  4. Pictured one trying to get into my front door! Located in Roswell, GA north of Atlanta.

    PS I would post the picture but don’t know how to here.

    Reply
  5. Pictured one trying to get into my front door! Located in Roswell, GA north of Atlanta.

    PS I would post the picture but don’t know how to here.

    Reply
  6. I found a dead one this morning. Thanks for the information on this bettle. I am going to add to my collection of things my daughter says are morbid.

    Reply
  7. Most welcome! I’m glad I was able to share the photos with you all!

    I also have good news! The big guy apparently was just fine, after having a bit of time to recover. When I checked on the beetle a few hours later, the only sign of his presence was that the plant was *still* bent over at the top. I hope he’ll find a mate in the nearby forest!

    I probably should also note, from my recent personal experience, that handling one of these lovely little beasts can be a painful time if one is not careful: They are very strong and heavy, and their wee claws and leg-spines are very sharp. I got stabbed a good bit in trying to pick this guy up by the sides of his wing-covers, so I instead ended up enticing him into grappling a pen and getting him into a container that way.

    Reply
  8. Most welcome! I’m glad I was able to share the photos with you all!

    I also have good news! The big guy apparently was just fine, after having a bit of time to recover. When I checked on the beetle a few hours later, the only sign of his presence was that the plant was *still* bent over at the top. I hope he’ll find a mate in the nearby forest!

    I probably should also note, from my recent personal experience, that handling one of these lovely little beasts can be a painful time if one is not careful: They are very strong and heavy, and their wee claws and leg-spines are very sharp. I got stabbed a good bit in trying to pick this guy up by the sides of his wing-covers, so I instead ended up enticing him into grappling a pen and getting him into a container that way.

    Reply

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