TX Organic Research Center



Rhinocerous Beetle

Photo from Tony Manasseri shows the Rhinoceros Beetle larvae or grubs he found in his compost pile. They are very beneficial in the pile but he decided to feed them to the chickens.
Here's more information from the Texas Bug Book about these fascinating creatures.

Scientific Name:  Order Coleoptera, family Scarabaeidae, several species

Size:  Adult--up to 2", larva--up to 3"

Iidentification: Very large beetles with horns; males have more prominent horns than the females. Many different sizes and colors.

Habitat:  Larvae found in sawdust, rotting stumps and compost piles. Adults are found around lights at night.

Feeding Habits:  We have never found adults feeding. The books say they may feed some on plants, mostly nectar. Larvae feed on and help break down organic matter.

Economic Importance:   Add fascination to nature, help in the decay of high-carbon organic material.

Natural Control:  None needed. Insectivorous animals such as opossums and armadillos love them, especially the giant larvae.

Organic Control:  None needed.

Insight:  The adults are ferocious-looking but harmless. Collectors prize the adults, fishermen prize the larvae. Often found in the compost pile, where they are totally beneficial. In Japan they are kept as pets and sold in stores. Perfect specimens are sold for as much as $3,000.  Kept in cages and fed a special diet, they will live up to two years. Ounce for ounce, these giant beetles are among the world's strongest animals. One bug scientist glued weights on a rhinoceros beetle's back and found it could carry up to one hundred times its own weight, although it did get tired. This is comparable to a fifty-year-old man walking a mile with a Cadillac on his back.

Q:  We have worms as big as a man's thumb in a bag of compost from Buda, TX.  Are these good or bad to leave in the vegetable garden?  J.B., Hondo.

A: Excellent! Those are the larvae of the rhinoceros beetle. The grubs and the adults are beneficial in helping break down organic matter and do not hurt plants in any way. See the Texas Bug Book for additional details.

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Mosquito Steve
Organic Club of America

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