Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus) or Rhinoceros Beetle

Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus)

Ox Beetle

Hercules Beetle are the largest of beetles in the United States.  They are found from Florida to New York on the East Coast.  In the West they are found from Illinois to Arkansas and Texas. The Ox Beetle are also called Rhinoceros Beetle.

They are a scarab beetle. The adult beetles are 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long.  The larvae are 2  to 3 1/2 inches long.  Females make a pile of sticks that are decaying and paste them together with saliva and lays it’s eggs in the summer. The adults remain underground during the winter.

The beetles live in shady areas. Hercules beetles are attracted to light, and are more active at night.
Larvae take almost a year to develop into pupae.  It only takes a few weeks from adults to emerge from pupae.

The males have horns on their heads and they are larger than the females.  The size of the horn depends on the amount of nutrition that they receive.  The more nutrition that they receive the longer their horn is.

Hercules beetle larvae are very beneficial for the compost.  They help break down organic matter in the compost.  The beetles can break down compost in no time at all. They prefer leaves, and rotting wood, and they like it like it moist. Hercules Beetles are said to prefer rotting wood from wild cherry, black locust, oak, pine and willow.  I find them in my compost piles that have large amounts of leaves more than anything else.  As adults they eat sap from ash trees.  I have ash trees and I have not seen damage on my trees or the leaves and I have a lot of them.

If you find these guys in the compost keep them.  However you may have some competition as there are some critters that like them as well.  The predators of the hercules beetle larvae are owls, crows, blue jays, woodpeckers, fox, skunks, raccoon, opossum, snakes, centipedes, ground beetles, spiders, mydas fly maggots and predatory mites.

During this terrible drought the raccoons had found my gold mine of hercules beetles and it was quite comical. I had about 5 yards of compost and the raccoons had decided to have their meal.  Well they had been reaching in and pulling out the larvae.  Then it looked like they were sliding down the compost piles.  Crazy little guys, they are funny! The beetles can emit a bad smell to fend off their attackers.

Many people have rhinoceros beetles as pets. You can keep your pet outside in your compost as a grub or bring your grub in and when he grows up you can have a huge beetle that will live a year or two as an adult.


5 Responses

  1. cool, but they look gross, glad I am not one

  2. can you send me some??

  3. Found one attached to my Wife’s leg this morning must have been near an oak tree. We live just south of San Antonio, Tx. This is the 7th or 8th time we have seen them.

  4. Pine? They definitely do not prefer pine, that would kill them.

  5. I found 3 rhino beetles today. 2 male (white spotted) 1 female (brown spotted). My tree out in the front yard turned into a beetle love fest. 1 of the males in 2 1/2 inches long. Quite the handsome devil.

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