This group of beetles have a number of different common names, but they all fall under the subfamily of Dynastinae which is closely related to the Scarab Beetle family.
While Scarab Beetles are primarily known for their significance in ancient Egypt, the Dynastinae subfamily of Scarabaeidae is known for its size in many parts of the world. There are 30,000 species of beetles in the Scarabaeidae family, and there are 300 species in the subfamily of Dynastinae. The Hercules and Elephant Beetles in particular are found throughout Central America and, of course, Costa Rica.
Hercules Beetles are found in Mexico, Central and South America and the Lesser Antilles. Elephant Beetles, on the other hand, are found in Australia, Mexico and Central and South America. They both inhabit rainforests, and prefer lowland wet tropical forest.
Mating & Reproduction
Elephant and Hercules Beetles in the Rhinoceros Beetle group are sexually dimorphic. This means that male and females do not look alike. The female Hercules Beetle has a stouter body, but is shorter than the male. Roughly the same can be said for the elephant beetle.
Male beetles will battle each other for the right to procreate. They do so with the large protruding horns that are their namesake. Once the victor has driven his opponent away, the male and female mate. The female then produces a brood of about 50 eggs and dies soon afterward. The young will hatch, go through several instars (development stages) and then, after a few years in some instances, will finally become adults. The larvae live off of decaying plant matter.
Rhinoceros Beetles are nocturnal herbivores. Their size, shell and their nocturnal behavior are all beneficial in their protection from predators. They feed on the sap of certain trees such as Flame Trees (Royal Ponciana) and fallen fruit. They will often eat fruit such as pineapple, lychee and longan when kept in captivity.
These beetles have wings and can fly. Their flights, however, are not very graceful due to their size. They produce a hissing sound with their wings when they feel threatened, but they are not actually dangerous to humans.
Elephant Beetles can regulate their body temperature, and the Pentagon has performed tests on Elephant Beetles by injecting electrodes into their pupae. The Elephant Beetles flight is then somewhat controlled by the electrodes.
Hercules Beetles get their common epithet from their incredible strength. They have been known to lift 80 times their own weight which is equivalent to a human being lifting an enormous off road dump truck. They do most of their lifting in order to burrow into the ground.
Locations in Costa Rica: Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, Palo Verde National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Santa Rosa National Park
Diet: decaying fruit, tree sap
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: lowland wet tropical rainforest
Size: length=17 cm (Hercules) 7-12 cm (Elephant) weight=100 g (Hercules) 18-28 g (Elephant)
Species: Dynastes Hercules & Megasoma elephas