The Breeding/Rearing of Dynastes hercules hercules (page 4)
- Yasuhiko Kasahara -

4. A breeding/rearing substrate

There are some substrates available for breeding and rearing rhinoceros beetles. On this page, I will choose one of these kinds. It is relatively easy to get and inexpensive. Its recipe is based on my direct hearings with H. Kojima, Japan’s leading expert on Dynastine/Lucanid beetle breeding/rearing (2004-2005), and I have tested its performance for breeding/rearing some rhinoceros, stag and flower beetles. So far, it has given excellent performance in the beetles’ egg laying and larval growth. However, please note that I will not take any responsibility in the event of any ill or arrested development or, in the worst case, death of your beetle larvae due to its use:

Bark compost (made from hardwood trees only, no coniferous trees)

Go to a garden center/shop nearest you and get one. Make sure that you get one with no chemicals (a totally organic one). Now it is ready to serve. You can also use this substrate for breeding and rearing flower beetles and some stag beetles (e.g. Genus Odontolabis).

5. Tips to attain a maximum-length adult male of this species/variety

1) Ideal rearing environment temperature is 25 degrees C.
    (cf. 20 degrees C. for ssp. lichyi);
2) Attain a male larva of 150 grams or more in weight;
3) Keep male larvae singly in a large container with good heat conductance
    (e.g. glass container with a capacity of 60 liters or more);
4) Keep changing substrates in a three-month interval;
5) Avoid pressing substrate so as not to disturb inside air flow;
6) Keep rearing containers in a dark, well-ventilated place;
7) Keep rearing containers apart; and,
8) Avoid touching rearing containers unless necessary.

Japan’s most circulated ‘beetle’ magazine, BE-KUWA, holds a “Breeders’ Guinness Contest” every year. The contest awards an honour to the largest ever captive reared individuals of certain rhino/stag beetle species and their amateur rearers/breeders. Issue No.14 lists a 165.2 mm lichyi adult male and a 159.6 mm hercules adult male. On Issue No. 17, the author was honoured for his captive reared Dorcus alcides (88.2 mm) although he has yet to be awarded for his hercules.

6. Acknowledgement

My special thanks are indebted to the following organizations and individuals: ‘The Beetle Ring’ (http://www.naturalworlds.org/beetlering/beetle_sites.htm) by Cameron Campbell, Administrator of ‘Natural Worlds’ (http://www.naturalworlds.org/); ‘The Kanagawa Stag Beetle Club,’ a local chapter of Japan’s largest beetle hobbyist club, ‘The Stag Beetle Fools’ (http://www.mars.dti.ne.jp/~k-sugano/bakamono_web/index2e.html), and its members including Hiroshi Kojima; Benjamin Harink (http://www.beetlebreeding.ch/) for an opportunity of this publication; Petr Malec (http://www.flower-beetles.com/) for advice on difficult-to-breed beetles; my father who has inspired me to pursue this interest; and my mother who has been patient enough for this unusual hobby of mine. 

I can be reached at http://www.geocities.ws/kaytheguru/. Please feel free to visit my beetle website. 

Note: Under the laws of Japan, living Dynastes hercules are importable to Japan and can be bred/reared there as well.

PS: The following pictures are a male Hercules pupa and the imago, respectively. It was reared by the author to be 150 mm long.

Dynastes hercules hercules male pupa
Figure 5.1  Shown in this picture is a male pupa of about 165 mm in length. Note that the maximum length of the pupal cell is about 190 mm. For the captive rearing of this individual, the author used a 60 liter container (see Figure 3.2), which was filled with pressed black dirt (garden soil) up to 10 cm high from the bottom and with 20 cm of unpressed (non-compacted) rearing substrate (see 4. A breeding/rearing substrate) added on top of it. The pressed bottom layer of black dirt helped the larva make this solid pupal cell. 

Dynastes hercules hercules adult male
Figure 5.2  Shown here is a 150 mm long male imago which emerged on March 3rd, 2005 from the pupa shown in Figure 5.1. Captive reared by the author.


1) Fujita, Hiroshi, et al., eds. BE-KUWA. No.8. Tokyo: MUSHI-SHA, 2003.
2) Okajima, Shuji, et al. eds. Kabutomushi Kuwagatamushi. Tokyo: GAKKEN, 2001;
  Fujita, Hiroshi, et al., eds. BE-KUWA. No.5, 9 & 13. Tokyo: MUSHI-SHA, 2002-2004.
3) Fujita, Hiroshi, Nagai, Shinji, et al., eds. BE-KUWA. No.5. Tokyo: MUSHI-SHA, 2002.
4) Fujita, Hiroshi, et al., eds. “Breeders’ Guinness” BE-KUWA. No.14. Tokyo: MUSHI-SHA, 2005.
5) Fujita, Hiroshi, Nagai, Shinji, et al., eds. BE-KUWA. No.5. Tokyo: MUSHI-SHA, 2002.
6) ditto.
7) ditto.
8) ditto.
9) Unno, Kazuo. ed. BEETLES. Tokyo: DATA HOUSE, 2000. 
10) Ishiyone, Toru. ed. Wonderland Beetles (1). Nara: Nara Ookuwa Center, 2001. 
11) Kojima, Hiroshi. ed. Breeding Technique of Lucanid Beetles. Tokyo: MUSHI-SHA, 2000.


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