The eastern Hercules beetle is a breathtaking animal. Like its Greek-hero namesake, it is big and strong. Males can be nearly 2½ inches long, counting the two forward-pointing horns. The horns are used for male-male contests for the best breeding sites, much as deer and elk use their antlers. Females lack the horns.
Hercules beetles are harmless to people.
Hercules beetles can vary greatly in the amount of spotting; some are almost completely black or brown, while others are mostly tan, pale green, or yellow, with irregular spots.
As grublike larvae, they eat rotting wood, ultimately helping to enrich soils.
Learn more about this and other scarab beetles on their group page.
Habitat and Conservation
Look for Hercules beetles in deciduous forests and around lights at night.
There is some concern that Hercules beetles will soon be declining, as decaying ash trees are some of their favorite rotting trees to use as larval nurseries. As ash trees decline and ultimately disappear entirely because of the invasive emerald ash borer, Hercules beetles might eventually become more scarce as a result. Following this reasoning, during the years that the dead ash trees are on the ground and rotting, we might see a short-term increase in Hercules beetles. But once the ashes have disappeared entirely, the Hercules beetles might become endangered themselves.
The larvae eat rotting heartwood, usually of deciduous trees, and the adults eat rotting fruits and tree sap.