Home / Scarab Beetles (Scarabaeidae) / Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus)

Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus)

Eastern Hercules beetle, a part of the scarab beetles family, and rhinoceros beetle subfamily occupy certain parts of the United States. Besides being called the eastern Hercules beetle, its other common names include the ox beetle and elephant beetle. Carl Linnaeus, the famous Swedish botanist, initially assigned the scientific name Scarabaeus tityus, later changed to Dynastes tityus.

Eastern Hercules Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Scarabaeidae
  • Genus: Dynastes
  • Scientific name: Dynastes tityus

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 20 – 27 mm (0.8 – 1.1 inches) wide in both sexes; Approximately 60 mm (2.4 inches) in males; females appear shorter

Color: They have a tan, green, and gray elytra with black spots resembling a mottled pattern. However, the pattern or marks on their body varies from one species to the other. For instance, those found in rotten wood or soil have a dark body with blurred spots.

Other Characteristic Features: One striking physical feature is the large horns primarily seen in males but absent in females. In fact, of the two horns, one project from their thorax, and the other from their head.

Female Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Larva

The C-shaped larva has a grub-like appearance, having a white body alongside mouthparts. They mainly inhabit decayed wood, excreting rectangular-shaped fecal pellets with a length of approximately 10 mm.

Eastern Hercules Beetle Larva

Pupa

The larva enters the pupal phase during late summer. Upon maturation, the adults remain encased within the pupal cell the whole of winter, after which they emerge.

Dynastes tityus Pupa

Egg

The eggs are round and laid in the soil.

Eastern Hercules Beetle Eggs

Quick Facts

Other NamesOx beetle, elephant beetle
Adult lifespan6 -8 months
Duration of larval stage6 – 12 months
DistributionEastern and southeastern parts of United States covering parts of New York, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, and eastern Texas
HabitatIn forests, mostly on decayed trees and rotten wood
Common predatorsEggs – predatory mite
Grubs or larva – Mammals like raccoon and skunks; ground beetles, spiders, and centipedes
Seasons active fromNot recorded
Host plantsAsh trees
Diet of larvae and adultsLarvae: Decayed root
Adults: Mostly saps of their host plants

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They feed on the decayed roots, but reports of any significant damage caused by the larva and adults remain unknown.

Did You Know

  • The image of this beetle species was seen on a stamp that the United States Postal Service issued in the year 1999.
  • Because of their long stature and bulky appearance, the eastern Hercules beetle is one of the United States’ heaviest and longest beetles. 
Dynastes tityus

Image Source: zoosafariusa.org, lh3.googleusercontent.com, discoverlife.org, roadsendnaturalist.files.wordpress.com, arthurevans.files.wordpress.com, upload.wikimedia.org, i.pinimg.com

Eastern Hercules beetle, a part of the scarab beetles family, and rhinoceros beetle subfamily occupy certain parts of the United States. Besides being called the eastern Hercules beetle, its other common names include the ox beetle and elephant beetle. Carl Linnaeus, the famous Swedish botanist, initially assigned the scientific name Scarabaeus tityus, later changed to Dynastes tityus.

Eastern Hercules Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 20 – 27 mm (0.8 – 1.1 inches) wide in both sexes; Approximately 60 mm (2.4 inches) in males; females appear shorter

Color: They have a tan, green, and gray elytra with black spots resembling a mottled pattern. However, the pattern or marks on their body varies from one species to the other. For instance, those found in rotten wood or soil have a dark body with blurred spots.

Other Characteristic Features: One striking physical feature is the large horns primarily seen in males but absent in females. In fact, of the two horns, one project from their thorax, and the other from their head.

Female Eastern Hercules Beetle
Male Eastern Hercules Beetle

Larva

The C-shaped larva has a grub-like appearance, having a white body alongside mouthparts. They mainly inhabit decayed wood, excreting rectangular-shaped fecal pellets with a length of approximately 10 mm.

Eastern Hercules Beetle Larva

Pupa

The larva enters the pupal phase during late summer. Upon maturation, the adults remain encased within the pupal cell the whole of winter, after which they emerge.

Dynastes tityus Pupa

Egg

The eggs are round and laid in the soil.

Eastern Hercules Beetle Eggs

Quick Facts

Other NamesOx beetle, elephant beetle
Adult lifespan6 -8 months
Duration of larval stage6 – 12 months
DistributionEastern and southeastern parts of United States covering parts of New York, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, and eastern Texas
HabitatIn forests, mostly on decayed trees and rotten wood
Common predatorsEggs – predatory mite
Grubs or larva – Mammals like raccoon and skunks; ground beetles, spiders, and centipedes
Seasons active fromNot recorded
Host plantsAsh trees
Diet of larvae and adultsLarvae: Decayed root
Adults: Mostly saps of their host plants

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They feed on the decayed roots, but reports of any significant damage caused by the larva and adults remain unknown.

Did You Know

  • The image of this beetle species was seen on a stamp that the United States Postal Service issued in the year 1999.
  • Because of their long stature and bulky appearance, the eastern Hercules beetle is one of the United States’ heaviest and longest beetles. 
Dynastes tityus

Image Source: zoosafariusa.org, lh3.googleusercontent.com, discoverlife.org, roadsendnaturalist.files.wordpress.com, arthurevans.files.wordpress.com, upload.wikimedia.org, i.pinimg.com

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