Welcome to the
GOLIATHUS website. These pages are dedicated
to the African Goliath beetles, which are among the largest and heaviest
of living beetles. There are five species in the genus:
and G. albosignatus. Additionally, there exists the rare regius
X cacicus hybrid, known as Goliathus "atlas".
Goliath beetles are members of the insect order Coleoptera, family Scarabaeidae,
subfamily Cetoniinae, tribe Goliathini, genus Goliathus. All
species are native to Africa. They are primarily tropical, although
one species, G. albosignatus, is localized in the more subtropical
southeastern portion of Africa. It is in the continent's equatorial
rain forests that the Goliath beetles have reached their greatest diversity.
The larvae of Goliathus
are rather unusual among cetoniine scarabs in that they require food much
higher in protein than do those of most other species. Like some
other genera of Cetoniinae (such as the North American Cotinis spp.)
larvae are soil dwelling. In contrast, most other cetoniines undergo
their larval development within decaying plant material such as rotten
wood and accumulations of decaying leaves. For detailed instructions
on the life cycle and captive breeding of Goliathus, please see
manual. Under optimal conditions (both nutritional and
environmental), the larvae grow quickly and reach maximum weight in approximately
four months. In the case of the largest
(G. goliatus, G. regius, and G. orientalis), larvae
are capable of growing up to 130 mm (5 in.) in length, and reaching weights
in excess of 100 grams. Toward the end of the African wet season,
when the larva has finished growing, it burrows to some depth below ground
and encapsulates itself within a thin-walled, oval-shaped cell composed
of sandy soil. Within this structure, it will undergo metamorphosis
to the adult state over the course of the tropical dry season. Once
building of the cell is completed, the larva becomes motionless for a few
weeks, shrinks in size somewhat and becomes rather wrinkled (the pre-pupal
stage). After the pre-pupal stage, the larval skin is shed and the
insect enters the pupal stage, an intermediate stage between the larva
and adult. During the pupal duration, the insect's tissues are re-organized
into the form of the adult beetle. After pupation is completed in
several months, the adult sheds the pupal skin and then expands its wings
and folds them into their correct position. This procedure is done
while still inside the earthen cell. The beetle then undergoes a
gradual hardening of its exoskeleton, and remains within the cell in a
hibernatory state until the heavy rains of the following wet season soak
down into the ground and soften the hardened walls of its pupal cell.
This awakens the insect from its hibernation, and it emerges from the cell.
The beetle then flies off in search of a mate and the entire life cycle
starts over again - the larval stage developing during the wet months,
and the dry season being spent within the pupal cell. The adult beetles
eat foods rich in sugar, especially tree sap, but will also accept ripe
fruit. In captivity, adults can sometimes live for nearly a year
after emerging from their pupal cells. However, longevity in the
wild is likely much shorter on average due to factors such as predators
and weather conditions. The adult stage concentrates solely on reproduction,
and once this function is performed, the time of the adult beetle is limited.
The same is true of the vast majority of other insect species.
Goliath beetles possess a reinforced first pair of wings (called elytra)
which act as protective covers for their secondary pair of wings and abdomen.
Only the second pair of wings (which are large and membranous) are actually
used for flying. When not in use, they are kept completely folded
beneath the elytra. Each of the beetle's legs ends in a pair of sharp
claws (called tarsi) which provide a strong grip useful for climbing on
tree trunks and branches. Males have a Y-shaped horn on the head
which is used as a pry bar in battles with other males over feeding sites
or mates. Females are without a horn, and instead have a wedge-shaped
head which assists in burrowing when they lay eggs. Apart from their
massive size, Goliathus beetles are strikingly patterned as well.
Prominent markings common to all of the Goliathus species are the
sharply contrasting black vertical stripes on the pronotum (thoracic shield).
Click on the buttons above
to view information pages about
each Goliathus species,
as well as access photo galleries.
NEW - 31 Dec.
'08 - The much anticipated book "For the Love of Rhinoceros and Stag
Beetles (Second Edition)" has been published! Click here
for details & purchasing link.
you would like to display a GOLIATHUS link graphic on your website,
please click here.
copyright © 1998-2006 C. Campbell's NATURAL
and other illustrations (where indicated) are © C. Campbell's NATURAL
photos and images are © their respective owners.