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Elephant Rhinoceros Beetle (Megasoma elephas)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Elephant Rhinoceros Beetle.




This huge, tropical beetle is all kinds of special, and it is under threat from habitat loss and collectors.



 Updated: 9/25/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The Elephant Rhinoceros Beetle is a mammoth Scarab beetle that is native to Central America and Mexico. The female looks like a typical Scarab, but the male is unique in a few ways. Like other Rhino Beetles, the male has two horns that project from the head: one is short and between the eyes, the other is quite long and curved, extending forward like an elephant's trunk and ending in a forked tip. These horns are used in battle against other males when competing for a female. Two more horns point out and forward from the pronotum ('shoulder' area). The head, pronotum, and wing coverings (elytra) of both sexes are covered in fine, short, orange-brown hairs that give it a velvety or flocked appearance. These hairs may rub off over time, leaving the beetle completely black. Aside from all of these wonderful characteristics, this species' size is really what captures attention. It is so large that it may require two hands to hold it. Rarely do insects in North America reach sizes that big.

Because of its remarkable traits, this beetle is often captured by collectors and those seeking trinkets from its body parts. In addition to this threat, much of its rain forest habitat is getting developed, so its population numbers are declining. Females use decaying logs to lay fertilized eggs. Harvesting lumber removes possible nest sites. Larvae spend over 2 years underground, just feeding and growing. Tilling the ground or removing vegetation destroys the larvae. The adult only lives for a few months, leaving little time to reproduce.

Look for adult beetles at night on tree trunks drinking sap, or on the ground, feeding on the ripe fruit that falls from the trees. Be sure to leave them where they are so the population can continue its presence in that area.


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Hairy insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Scarabaeidae [ View More ]
          Genus: Megasoma [ View More ]
            Species: elephas
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Descriptors
Scientific Name: Megasoma elephas
Other Name(s): Elephant Rhino Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 70mm to 150mm (2.73in to 5.85in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black
Descriptors: large; big; brown; velvet; flocking; two horns; snout; trunk; long nose
Relative Size Comparison
Lo: 70mm | Hi: 150mm
Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns.
Territorial Map
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Beetle Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American Beetle insect
1
Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used for sensing.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
3
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
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Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
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Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
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Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.