The Excellent Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

April 15th, 2015


I had one of these fellows fly into my Lounge the other evening, I am used to many strange and beautiful bugs coming in, but this chap tops the list. At about three inches long and an inch and a half high he’s a compact animal, and despite the fierce looks was rather docile.

These beetles are the Eurasian form of the Scarab, belonging to the genus Dynastinae, and this creature belongs in Coconut trees. Unfortunately, they are an invasive species and having been accidently introduced from Sri Lanka to the Pacific Islands are something of a Pest in other parts of the world. The Spice trade brought not just nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, but a handful of problems as well.

However, in his native habitat he is a magnificent beast. I attempted to pick him up, but his legs, with sharp, angled claws were so entrenched into the tablecloth he was almost impossible to remove without a bit of a struggle. These are amongst the worlds largest beetles, some achieving lengths of six inches. They are also amongst the strongest – being able to life up to 650 times their body weight. As for the horn, that is used for digging, as well as for fending off rival males in the mating season. For this reason, Rhinoceros Beetle fight contests are a sport in parts of South-East Asia, and they are often adopted as pets.

I let my one go, but no doubt he’ll be back. He’s welcome to visit anytime – the worlds largest and most ferocious looking beetle turning out to ultimately be a bit of a softie (unless you’re another male Rhinoceros Beetle).