The Breeding/Rearing of Goliathus (page 5)
- Karl Meier -
    Once you have placed the larva in its cell construction container, it is best not to move or disturb it in any way for at least several weeks.  The larva will actively roam around in the substrate (including at the surface) for a time (usually 7-10 days, though sometimes more) before it finally finds a particular spot to its liking, where it will make its cell.  The cell is nearly always created at or near the bottom of the substrate.  Do not disturb the substrate in any way during the time that the larva is creating its pupal cell, otherwise it may become stressed and damage it.  Like those of most other cetoniines, the larvae of Goliathus usually will not create a second cell if their first one is damaged, especially if the damage occurs once the first cell is nearly completed.
G. goliatus pupal cells - Image  Karl Meier
Rows of G. goliatus pupal cells placed within a group box in order to conserve space.  Each cell has a marker in front of it which bears the date on which the larva was collected from the breeding terrarium, when it was placed in a cell construction box, when the pupal cell was excavated, and the sex of the larva. Ordinarily, these cells would be shallowly covered in substrate, but here it has been temporarily cleared away for photography.
Photo courtesy of Karl Meier.

    When the larva has ceased to come to the surface for at least several days, this usually indicates that it has begun work on its cell.  Construction of the cell takes at least several days to complete.  Once you are certain that an adequate amount of time has passed since the larva discontinued wandering, and are confident that the pupal cell has been finished, you can very carefully excavate the cell by scooping out the substrate from around it.  It is advisable to wait at least two weeks after wandering activity has completely ceased before excavating a cell.  If you are rearing a large number of larvae and have only a limited amount of space for cell construction boxes, you can place the cells in groups within a single box of the sand/peat substrate, so that you will have boxes available to other larvae as they become ready to make their cells.  The lid of a box of substrate containing finished pupal cells should be reasonably well ventilated, otherwise it will retain too much humidity and eventually lead to the death of the pupae.

G. goliatus X G. orientalis hybrid pupa (female) - Image  Karl Meier
A female pupa of a G. goliatus X G. orientalis hybrid, here shown removed from its pupal cell for photography.  Note how the legs and wings are folded.  The legs are usually the first part of the body to begin emerging from the pupal skin.  Photo courtesy of Karl Meier.
    The substrate should be allowed to slowly dry somewhat (but not completely) over time through gradual evaporation, which will mimic progression into the annual dry season of the beetles' natural habitat.  During this cycle, the beetle will undergo pupation and transform into an adult. Goliathus always pupates during the dry season, which in many parts of Africa (even rainforest areas) can be quite dry indeed.  As such, an excess of moisture is dangerous to the pupal stage of Goliathus since they are not biologically adapted to cope with it during this part of their life cycle.  Total dryness should be avoided however, as this can lead to desiccation.  The pre-pupal stage is especially vulnerable to desiccation in situations of total dryness.  If the substrate eventually becomes too dry, carefully remove the cells from the substrate and then thoroughly mix water into the substrate until it is evenly distributed.  In order to avoid adding too much, it is best to mix the water into the substrate in small increments until the desired level of moisture is reached.  The moisture level for finished pupal cells should only be about half of the level that was used during the cell construction stage.  Re-bury the cells at the same depth as previously.  Shortly after construction of the pupal cell has been completed, the larva enters the pre-pupal stage.  This stage is characterized by immobility and shrinkage of the larva, and lasts for several weeks.  At the end of this stage, the larval skin is shed to expose the pupa, which at first is white but gradually darkens to an amber hue.  The pupal stage lasts approximately 8-10 weeks.

    After eclosion (emergence from the membranous pupal skin), the beetles will remain within their cells in a state of hibernation for a period of 3-4 months, awaiting the arrival of the wet season.  For several weeks following eclosion, the beetle's thick exoskeleton gradually hardens and darkens.  The wet season in equatorial west Africa (in Ghana for example) is roughly from May through October.

    However, the weather pattern farther to the south (in Tanzania for example, which lies below the equator) is the reverse, with the wet months being roughly from Nov. through April.  If the life cycle of your Goliath beetles happens to be out of sync with the wild population, this is if no particular importance.  So long as they undergo a wet environmental cycle (active adult, egg, larva, and pupal cell construction) and a semi-dry environmental cycle (pre-pupa, pupa, and hibernating adult) which have durations that are approximately the same as that which they would experience in nature, all should be well.  Five to six months after a larva has made its pupal cell, remove the cell(s) from the slightly moist substrate, and then thoroughly mix in as much water as is necessary to bring the substrate back to the same moisture level as when the cell was constructed.  Re-bury the cell in the box of substrate.  The added moisture will slowly permeate the walls of the cell, and this should stimulate the adult beetle to emerge within a matter of days to weeks.  It is best to allow the beetles to emerge naturally, prompted by the sudden addition of more moisture to the substrate.  As with most other beetle species, the adults will not all emerge simultaneously.  As not all of them will have made their pupal cells at exactly the same time, some will take longer than others to emerge.  Some adults may emerge a month or more apart.
Kakum National Park - Ghana
The dense rainforest of Kakum National Park in Ghana, equatorial west Africa. Goliathus species found in this country include G. regius and G. cacicus.
Tarangire National Park - Tanzania
The subtropical savannah of Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, southeast Africa.  Goliathus species found in this country include G. albosignatus and G. orientalis.

    Occasionally, one or more adults may emerge far in advance of the others.  This may possibly be prompted by sudden changes in atmospheric conditions, such as the low barometric pressure caused by a passing thunderstorm, and/or an increase in the humidity of the air.

    In captivity, adult Goliathus can sometimes live for nearly a year after emerging, although 6-8 months is average.  Longevity in the wild is likely considerably shorter on average due to factors such as predators and seasonal weather cycles.


back to: page 4 return to the introduction page forward to: page 6

Website copyright © C. Campbell's NATURAL WORLDS.
Photographs and other illustrations (where indicated) are © C. Campbell's NATURAL WORLDS.
Other photos and images are © their respective owners.