Coming from the north I do not have a lot of bug experience, one of the advantages of a long winter with hard frost. The bugs do not survive. Well some do but sure not like these enormous fellows!
We found this fellow by the car on our last trip to Kentucky.
Eastern Hercules Beetle.
He was dead and I have to admit I think it was the best way to be introduced to this huge bug! The males have horns and can be well over two inches long. Finding one exposes me to the fact they are around. They can fly well and are basically harmless, I can tell you however if I had come across one without this prior information I would have issued a girly scream for sure!
An example of a live Eastern Hercules Beetle.
This is what I found out about the Hercules Beetle.
WHAT IS A HERCULES BEETLE?
Like all beetles, Hercules Beetles have chewing mouthparts and hardened front wings (elytra). Hercules beetles are in the scarab beetle family (Scarabaeidae), which also includes Japanese Beetles, June Beetles, and Dung Beetles.
The only Hercules beetle species in Kentucky is the Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, which is the largest beetle in this part of the country. Adult Eastern Hercules Beetles typically have green, gray, or tan elytra mottled with black spots (rare individuals lack spots).
Adult male beetles have 2 large horns: 1 on the head and 1 on the thorax. They also have 2 small horns located next to the large thorax horn. Females lack horns.
Eastern Hercules Beetles have "complete" metamorphosis with egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Female beetles lay eggs directly into the soil during warm months.
In about 1 month, the eggs hatch into larvae. During the next 6 months to 1 year, the larvae live underground where they grow and molt (shed their skins) twice before turning into pupae. As with all insects, each immature stage is called an "instar."
The adults emerge from pupae after only a few weeks, but will remain underground until spring. Upon emerging from the ground, females will begin emitting pheromones to attract male beetles. After mating, females burrow into the ground to lay eggs.
Male beetles often use their horns to fight one another for the right to mate with a female.
The feeding habits of the adult beetles are not well-known, but they have been observed to eat rotten fruit and the bark of ash trees.
Hercules beetles are not pests in Kentucky.
I continue to marvel at the unending variety of things this wonderful world has in it. All around us there are strange and incredible things, from the gifts of plants and animals for food to these amazing insects that help keep the woods in balance in their own way.
I hope when I finally meet one of these beetle who is alive and well I do not issue that girly scream but the jury is still out on that! I am sure there are more bugs that will astonish me in this fertile and rich place we have found for our home.
God Bless you all.