Range: Central America,
northern South America and nearby islands
Size: 50 - 170 mm
Of all the world's rhinoceros beetles,
hercules is probably the most famous. Scientific records of this
insect from several hundred years ago exist, and to this day it remains
a favorite among beetle enthusiasts. An inhabitant of the rain forests
of Central and South America, it is a real giant having a body length of
up to 170 mm (6.75 in.). Perhaps the most distinctive features of
this species are the thoracic and cephalic horns of the male, which often
reach lengths even longer than the insect's body itself. The underside
of the thoracic horn is lined with a thick band of fine brown hairs.
The upward curving horn on the head (the "cephalic" horn) can be moved
upward against the longer, downward curving one (the "thoracic" horn) which
projects from the beetle's pronotum (the dorsal shield of the thorax).
This beetle has evolved the insect equivalent of a large, slender, grasping
claw rather similar to that of a fiddler crab, but rather than it being
an appendage located on an arm, it has been developed as extensions of
the head and thorax. As is the case with other members of the scarab
subfamily dynastinae, the horns are used as pry bars during disputes with
other males over mates. There are a number of subspecies distributed
across Central America and northern South America which can be distinguished
primarily by the particular shape of their horns. There are six species
in the genus Dynastes, and two of them, D. granti and D.
tityus, occur within the United States.
You can read an excellent article by beetle
hobbyist Yasuhiko Kasahara about the captive breeding
of Dynastes hercules here.