9 largest beetles in the world

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Beetles are one of the most common insects in the world. Perhaps, in one way or another, every person met with them. Someone every summer tries to overcome the invasion of the striped Colorado potato beetle; someone in childhood caught beasts and tied them with a thread by the paws (and is still ashamed of this, recalling with some awkwardness); someone is being treated for everything in a row, eating darkling beetles; and someone tried to prove to the insurance company that the damage to the windshield of a car from a night meeting with a rhinoceros beetle is quite an insured event requiring monetary compensation.

Nevertheless, most of the beetles found on the street, outside the city or in the forest are relatively small. Even the ever-memorable rhinos, reaching the length of a matchbox, seem quite crumbs in comparison with the largest members of the family. Some specimens are so large that they do not even fit in the palm of an adult male.

And about them – the largest beetles in the world – and will be discussed in this material. Moreover, several species are quite common on the territory of Russia, although quite rarely.

The largest beetles in the world

Nomination a place name Length
The largest beetles in the world 9 Stag beetle (Lucanus cervus ) 95 mm.
8 Duplyak Atlas (Chalcosoma atlas ) 110 MM.
7 Relic Lumberjack (Callipogon relictus ) 110 MM.
6 Goliath beetle (Goliathus regius ) 116 MM.
5 Elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas) 120 MM.
4 Longhorn beetle Xixuthrus heros 150 MM.
3 Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) 171 MM.
2 Brazilian Big Toothed Lumberjack (Macrodontia cervicornis) 178 MM.
1 Titan woodcutter (Titanus giganteus ) 220 MM.

9th place: Stag beetle (Lucanus cervus), up to 95 mm

Rating: 4.2

Lucanus cervus

The stag beetle is the largest of the beetles found in Europe. Some individuals are able to grow up to 95 mm in length – this is taking into account the horns on the head, which by themselves can reach up to half the size of an insect.

In Russia, it is easiest to find it in the south and in the middle lane. The stag beetle prefers to settle in oak and deciduous forests, because it lives in rotten wood, and the coniferous tree is too tough for it. Despite the wide distribution area, the insect is found locally, in small colonies, and therefore is listed in the Red Books of almost all post-Soviet states. Deforestation and the collection of beetles by collectors also affect population decline.

The stag beetle got its name from the characteristic 'horns' on its head. Male mandibles grow to impressive sizes and become antlers-like. They are used for fights – during the mating period, males are distinguished by territoriality and aggressive temperaments, therefore, every now and then they enter into skirmishes for females. 'Women', in turn, do not have 'horns' and are smaller in size, so it is difficult to recognize representatives of the stag beetle species in them.

The male stag beetle also tends to fly. Moreover, they are able to spend quite a lot of time in the air and go on trips up to 3 kilometers long. However, due to its large mass and large dimensions, the stag beetle needs a vertical surface for take-off – from a horizontal one it can be difficult and not always successful to 'come off'.

The stag beetle is colored brown, characteristic of forest insects, with a glossy sheen of chitin. However, some subspecies are almost black.

8th place: Duplyak Atlas (Chalcosoma atlas), up to 110 mm

Rating: 4.3

Chalcosoma atlas

Duplyak Atlas is one of the largest beetles in Asia. Some specimens of this insect can grow up to 110 mm in length, taking into account the 'horns' and 'proboscis'. Chalcosoma atlas occurs in Malaysia and other southeast Asian regions.

It got its Latin name Chalcosoma atlas due to its impressive size. It is believed that the name was invented in honor of Atlas, a mighty titan, a character in Greek mythology. But the Russian name “hollow” insect acquired due to the desire to live in hollows and other “defects” of trees.

Like many other beetles, the Atlas tree is sexually dimorphic. Males are much larger than females and have two long 'horns' on their heads. The purpose of these growths is not entirely clear, since Chalcosoma atlas during the mating season does not arrange slaughter with other members of the species. Both males and females are colored black, but the 'males' are covered with glossy chitin with a characteristic metallic sheen, and the 'females' are matte.

While the adult insects are peaceful in nature, the Atlas nest larvae are aggressive and very dangerous. They bite, both during defense and attack. Some entomologists also report that Chalcosoma atlas larvae are capable of killing each other if they do not have enough space or food to live comfortably.

7th place: Relic woodcutter (Callipogon relictus), up to 110 mm

Rating: 4.4

Callipogon relictus

The relict lumberjack, also called the Ussuriysk relict barbel because of its habitat, is the largest beetle regularly found in Russia. It can grow up to 110 mm in length. In principle, almost all barbel beetles are large in size – and representatives of this family will still be found in our rating.

The relict lumberjack is one of the oldest beetles on the planet. The species has survived since the so-called 'Tertiary period', which ended about 2 million years ago. In those days, insects, in principle, were characterized by some gigantism. And the beetles of the barbel family have preserved it to this day.

The relict woodcutter is found in the southern Primorye of Russia (especially often in the Amur region), both Koreas and the northeastern regions of China. Listed in the Red Book, protected by states. It inhabits mixed and deciduous forests, where it acts as a pest – its larvae (whose life span is up to 6 years) not only bore out trunks and subcortex, but also infect trees with fungal spores.

Adult beetles are sexually dimorphic. Male mandibles are large, massive and overgrown, similar to 'horns', while the female is no different. The beetles are black-brown with translucent brown elytra. The mustache is long, in a calm state extending even to the last third of the body.

In nature, it is easier to meet a female than a male. 'Women' are more active, in the period from July to September they are in a state of summer. Therefore, they are often found outside the forests. Males are more passive and rarely rise into the air.

6th place: Goliath beetle (Goliathus regius), up to 116 mm

Rating: 4.5

Goliathus regius

The goliath beetle Goliathus regius is the largest representative of the bronze subfamily, which includes the golden bronze, in the South of Russia called the 'May beetle', and in other places – the 'May beetle'. And both of these species are very similar. Is that the goliath beetle can grow up to 116 millimeters in length.

The goliath beetle lives in equatorial African countries. The insect is colored in a contrasting way, in black and white tones, with a variable pattern on the elytra. Males are brighter, because on the chest shield they have more spots with clear boundaries between them. In addition, the 'men' have a Y-shaped horn-like growth on their heads.

Goliathus regius is rare, primarily due to the fact that it rarely descends to the ground. Most of the time beetles spend in the crowns of trees, where they feed on the juice of overripe fruits and other plant products. But only adult insects go on a 'vegan diet' – larvae living in the ground require protein food for growth and development. Therefore, when kept in captivity, they feed well on food for cats and dogs.

When the larva grows to 130 mm in length and reaches 100 grams in weight, it pupates. In this state, she spends up to several months, while the dry season lasts in Africa. And after the beginning of the rains, an adult goliath beetle hatches from the pupa. In captivity, insects live for about a year, and in the wild, most likely only a few months.

5th place: Elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas), up to 120 mm

Rating: 4.6

Elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas)

Another representative of the hollow family, one of the largest beetles in the world. Megasoma elephas can grow up to 120 millimeters in length – however, only males with a proboscis reach such dimensions, and females are several times shorter.

The elephant beetle lives in South America, meeting in rain forests. In addition, he was met in Mexico and several Central American states. The color of the insect differs depending on the region of habitation – there are also black specimens, and chocolate brown, and even golden ones. However, the head shape is the same for all subspecies.

The elephant beetle got its name not only because of its size, but also because of the 'trunk' – a long horn in front of its head. As a rule, it is somewhat pointed and bent towards the end. Along the edges of the insect's head there are 'tusks' – two horn-like processes.

Despite its impressive size, the elephant beetle is quite light – even the largest recorded specimens weighed no more than 35 grams. The insect is nocturnal, preferring to rest in hollows, under peeling bark or in heaps of leaves during the daytime.

In 2009, the University of California, Berkeley, in a study sponsored by the Pentagon, tested the possibility of using elephant beetles for military and intelligence purposes. Special electrodes were introduced into the heads of the insects, which made it possible to control the flight of animals, controlling their movement.

4th place: Barbel Xixuthrus heros, up to 150 mm

Rating: 4.7

Longhorn beetle Xixuthrus heros

The longhorn beetle Xixuthrus heros (which does not have a Russian name due to its small and enedmic population) is one of the largest beetles in the world. Males of this species grow up to 150 millimeters in length.

Xixuthrus heros is found only on the island of Fiji. The population is so small that some researchers suggest that this species of barbel became extinct long ago. Nevertheless, locals now and then meet with beetles, which is why the status of Xixuthrus heros is still quite controversial.

As is usually the case for beetles, males of Xixuthrus heros are much larger than females. And outwardly they are different. The body of the beetle is dark brown, the elytra in males is sandy-cream, in females – brown. Justifying the name of the subfamily, Xixuthrus heros boasts a huge mustache that, in a calm state, extends to the last third of the body – and in some cases even exceeds the length of the body.

One of the reasons for the rarity of the beetle is extermination. The natives of Fiji's highlands catch barbel larvae and eat. Local residents are not interested in adult beetles – chitin is thick and tough, and the insect bites when trying to catch it. In addition, a frightened beetle can emit an intimidating high-volume hissing sound, pressing down on the elytra and pushing air out from under them.

3rd place: Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules), up to 171 mm

Rating: 4.8

Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules)

Hercules beetle is the largest representative of the lamellar beetle, which also includes, for example, the goliath beetle. The maximum documented body length with horns was 171 mm in the male, but usually the beetles grow a couple of centimeters shorter.

The Hercules beetle boasts not only an impressive length, but also a huge wingspan – up to 22 centimeters. The insect is colored brightly and noticeably. The head with a horn is black and glossy. The elytra are light brown with dark dots, somewhat reminiscent of unpeeled almonds. However, their color can vary from habitat – from yellow to olive black. The female is less variegated, but also noticeable – the head and breast are matte black, the elytra are light brown with dark veins.

The Hercules beetle is found mainly in South America, as well as in a number of Central American states and the Caribbean islands. Prefers moist rain forests. The larva lives underground, pupating during dry periods and transforming into an adult beetle with the onset of the rainy season.

The larva of the hercules beetle in two years of life is capable of growing up to 180 mm in length and reaching 100 grams of weight. After that, she pupates. An adult insect lives up to six months.

2nd place: Brazilian large-toothed lumberjack (Macrodontia cervicornis), up to 178 mm

Rating: 4.9

Brazilian Big Toothed Lumberjack (Macrodontia cervicornis)

The Brazilian large-toothed lumberjack is one of the largest representatives of the barbel family, which has already been 'lit up' in our rating more than once. True, it differs from its 'relatives' by its huge mandibles, thanks to which it got its name. The beetle is capable of growing up to 178 mm in length – these are the dimensions that the largest of the caught specimens had.

The Brazilian big-toothed lumberjack, as the name implies, is found in South America. Prefers to settle in humid tropical forests. It is distinguished by a bright, unusual color – a reddish-brown head, a chest with a spiked shield, and yellow elytra with a black 'geographic' pattern. Some subspecies are slightly lighter, which makes them look even brighter.

The Brazilian large-toothed woodcutter spends most of its life in the form of a larva. This phase can last up to ten years. Then, in a certain climatic period and gaining enough weight, the larva pupates – and literally in a few weeks the imago is born. An adult beetle lives only a few months, and its task is to reproduce. Both females and males die shortly after egg-laying.

1st place: Titan lumberjack (Titanus giganteus), up to 220 mm

Rating: 5.0

Titanus giganteus

The titan lumberjack is the largest beetle in the world, the largest member of the barbel family, and simply one of the largest insects on the planet. The maximum recorded length, according to various sources, is 210-220 millimeters, but most of the specimens encountered are several centimeters shorter.

Like many other largest beetles in the world, the titan lumberjack lives in the Amazonian forests, meeting in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and other South American states. It settles in trees, but is nocturnal. During the day, it prefers to sleep in shelters, hiding in hollows, rotten stumps and under the forest floor.

It is not brightly colored. The head and chest are dark brown, almost chocolate-colored, the elytra are slightly lighter. There is a minimum of differences between the male and the female – the former are only slightly smaller than the latter. The mustache is shorter than that of the rest of the family, and reaches half the length of the body.

Interestingly, adult titan lumberjacks don't eat. They live only at the expense of fat reserves accumulated in the larval phase. Because of this, the duration of their existence is extremely short and is no more than 3-5 weeks. Perhaps the titan lumberjack spends most of his life in the form of a larva – however, researchers have not yet been able to find any of them.

In 1959, National Geographic magazine published a life-size photograph of this beetle – and it filled an entire page. However, some researchers believe that the publishers confused the insects – the picture showed not a titanium lumberjack, but a closely related Brazilian big-toothed lumberjack.

Despite some rarity, the carcasses of titan lumberjacks are actively sold in online stores. As a rule, entomological collectors collect already dead beetles, dry them and sell them. The cost of a copy reaches $ 600-800.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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