Horned Beetle

Last updated: October 4, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Mark Brandon/Shutterstock.com

These beetles are herbivores but have an intimidating appearance because of the horn-like projection on their heads. However, they are entirely harmless to humans, as they don't sting or bite.

Horned Beetle Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Coleoptera
Family
Scarabaeidae

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Horned Beetle Conservation Status


Horned Beetle Facts

Name Of Young
Grub or larvae
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
These beetles are herbivores but have an intimidating appearance because of the horn-like projection on their heads. However, they are entirely harmless to humans, as they don't sting or bite.
Most Distinctive Feature
Two protruding horns on their head
Other Name(s)
Rhinoceros beetle or elephant beetle
Average Spawn Size
50 eggs
Habitat
Leaf litters, plants, and fallen logs
Diet
Herbivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Favorite Food
Sqp
Common Name
Horned beetle
Number Of Species
300
Location
North-America, South-America, Oceania, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Africa

Horned Beetle Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Grey
  • Black
  • Green
Lifespan
1 to 2 years
Weight
0.48 to 0.96 ounces
Length
6 inches

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View all of the Horned Beetle images!



The horned beetle goes by many names, like rhinoceros, elephant, and atlas beetle. They are large insects with a very unique shape.

They consist of around 1,500 species and 225 genera, but the most popular species are the Japanese rhinoceros beetle, atlas beetle, ox beetle, coconut beetle, and Eastern Hercules beetle.

The horned beetle is one of the largest of all beetles found around the world; they can reach lengths of inches, which is about the size of an average human hand.

These beetles are herbivores but have an intimidating appearance because of the horn-like projection on their heads. However, they are entirely harmless to humans, as they don’t sting or bite.

In fact, they have two horn-like projections, one on the head and the other positioned in the center of the thorax, which curves behind the head.

These horns occur only in males because they use them for fighting over the mating season or for digging.

Horned Beetle Species, Types, and Scientific Name

There are around 300 species of horned beetles, but the most popular include:

Horned beetles belong to the order Coleoptera, which consists of around 350,000 species. In fact, there are nearly 30,000 species in the United States alone, and this number constantly increases because new species are being found by taxonomists.

The beetles in this order vary in size, from barely visible like the feather-winged beetle to extremely large like the horned beetles. However, the largest known long-horned beetle is the titan beetle (Titanus giganteus), which is native to South America.

These beetles belong to the family Scarabaeidae, with over 1000 species in North America alone. While these family members are diverse in size, their most distinguishing characteristics are their five segmented tarsi, oval bodies, and lamellate antennae. Their primary food sources are plants, flowers, and dung.

Appearance: How To Identify the Horned Beetle

The horned beetle varies in color from green, black, and gray. In addition,  they have two horn-like projections on their heads, and their bodies are covered in soft hair.

The larvae or grubs are white with a red head and can grow to 4 inches long if appropriately nourished. These beetles are one of the largest in the family, Scarabaeidae, and can measure 6 inches long when fully grown and weigh between 0.48 to 0.96 ounces.

Habitat: Where to Find the Horned Beetle

Horned beetles occur all over the world, except for Antarctica. They prefer environments with leaf litters, plants, and fallen logs, which provide them with protection from predators.

Diet: What Do Horned Beetles Eat?

The horned beetle is a herbivore, and adults’ diets consist of nectar, fruit, and sap. However, the larvae only feed on plant matter.

Life Cycle of the Horned Beetle

To get to such a large size, horned beetles have to go through a long life cycle, which includes several stages of development. Many people keep these beetles and pets, and it is essential they understand each stage to properly care for these creatures.

First Stage

There always needs to be a proper place for egg laying. For example, in areas with multiple male horned beetles, they will fight using their horns, and the victor gets the female. After mating occurs, the females lay their eggs underneath the soil, decomposing plants, or vegetation.

So, to mimic their natural habitats, the tank needs to contain at least 8 inches of compost or topsoil. In addition, an added layer of moist substrate under the soil is beneficial for optimal living conditions.

Female horned beetles can lay up to 50 eggs at once, and they generally take 3 to 4 weeks to hatch. Once the eggs hatch in captivity, the adults and larvae should be separated.

Second Stage

Once the eggs hatch, they are in their grub or larvae stage. During the second stage, the grubs look like insect larvae or maggots. But, during each molt, they will grow bigger.

This process is really slow, and depending on the species and sex of the larvae, they may not enter the next stage for a year to 18  months.

Third Stage

During the third stage, the larvae will burrow themselves into a chamber in the soil, where they experience their final molt. They will remain in this chamber for the next few months and do not require additional nutrition.

After the final molt, the beetle will stay in the chamber until its exoskeleton completely hardens. Finally, after fully developing, the horned beetle emerges from its chamber. The duration of the third stage varies depending on the species and the sex but can range from a few months to 18 months.

Fourth Stage

Upon emerging, horned beetles will immediately start breeding. In their natural habitats, adults will feed off tree sap; however, in captivity, owners can feed them:

  • Apples
  • Watered-down syrup
  • Bananas
  • Prepackaged beetle jelly

Adult horned beetles have an average lifespan of 1 to 2 years.

Prevention: How to Get Rid of the Horned Beetle

Horned beetles mainly destroy coconut and oil palms. They do this by boring into the middle of the crown, injuring the young growing tissues. In addition, they feed on the exuded sap.

For example, they cut through the developing leaves as they create tunnels. This goes unnoticed until the leaves grow out and unfold. Then, the destruction appears as little V-shaped cuts or holes through the leaf’s midrib.

To prevent these beetles from causing harm, any decaying logs should be chopped and burnt. The stumps must be cut as close to the soil surface as possible.

In addition, many people use a hooked wire to extract and kill any horned beetles feeding in coconut trees.

One of the best ways to get rid of horned beetle larvae is beneficial nematodes like:

These creatures will seek out and kill the larvae and any soil-inhabiting insects. You can buy them on a sponge, which you soak in water, place in a spray bottle and spray the infested area. Over time, the nematodes will multiply and continue to kill the larvae.

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About the Author

I am a 33-year-old creative and professional writer from South Africa. Wildlife is one of my greatest passions and led me to become the writer I am today. I was very blessed to work with an abundance of wildlife (mainly big cats) and captured my unique experiences in writing. But I wanted to take it further, and I ventured into the freelancing world. Now, I get to spend my days writing about animals; what could be better?

Horned Beetle FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are beetle horns used for?

In areas with multiple male horned beetles, they will fight using their horns, and the victor gets the female

Can a rhinoceros beetle lift a human?

While horned beetles can lift up to 850 times their body weight, they cannot lift a human.

What is a horn bug? What is another name for a rhinoceros beetle?

The horned beetle goes by many names, like rhinoceros, elephant, and atlas beetle. They are large insects with a very unique shape.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Pets on Mom, Available here: https://animals.mom.com/rhinoceros-beetle-life-cycle-5031024.html
  2. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynastinae
  3. Kidadl, Available here: https://kidadl.com/facts/animals/rhinoceros-beetle-facts
  4. The National Wildlife Federation, Available here: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Rhinoceros-Beetles

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