Hercules beetle!

What came out of the soil last night!

There were some crackling sound from inside our larva box when we woke up this morning. My husband peeked inside the box and found this huge beetle! After two years of waiting, our larva has emerged as a huge Hercules beetle last night!

I completely missed his pupa stage, which is in between the larva and imago (last stage development of an insect). In Pupa stage, he would stop eating and silently begin the metamorphosis process. This is the most delicate stage, so maybe it was a good thing that we didn’t disturb him at that time. The tip of the horn is a little bent, maybe because of his position during pupa stage. But he is huge! I haven’t measured him properly, but it seems that he’s more than 15 cm in length.

Turning into a beetle: May 30, 2011
He eats beetle jellies

We asked Sidra to gave him a name and he said the beetle will be called ‘Redojiimu‘ (Red Jim). Red Jim? We asked him why? Sidra said, “No reason.” Oh, okay.

After Sidra and my husband left for school and office, I tried to take some pictures of Redojiimu. I put him on my palm so I could use the other hand to operate the camera, but he ran towards my arm! He then bit me when I tried to take him off. Don’t worry, his mouth is underneath those gigantic scissor-like thing, so it was only a bit warm and not painful at all. This beetle has serrated claws on the ends of his legs so they cling to my arm. It took some time to take him off and now my arm is full of tiny red marks.

Anyway, if you ever got the chance to have one of this thing clinging to your skin or clothing, don’t pull it off. It will just make him tighten its grip and you might hurt the beetle by pulling him off. Just pat gently on his back rear and he will move.

What came out of the soil last night!

If you remember my first post about him, we bought him when he was just a tiny little larva in August, 2009. So it took almost two years for him to fully develop and got ready before transforming into a beetle. I feel happy and sad at the same time. After reaching adult stage, a beetle has only a few months left to live. A beetle spent most of his life underground eating and eating for several years. Then one spring, he transform and emerge as a beetle. This is actually the last stage of his life and he only eats very little. Then he will die before winter.

Sidra just found out that Redojiimu will die this year, he was very upset about it. But this is the life cycle of a beetle and we had the chance to experience it by ourselves. We saw him as a tiny little larva and now he’s a giant beetle. Transforming into a beetle is not the beginning of  a journey, it is a journey about to end.

When I think about it, it does make sense. That is why we never see beetles in winter because they all have died. Life is a funny thing.

Aug 31, 2009: here's our new baby! Nov 3, 2009: hercules beetle larva

August 30, 2009; November 3, 2009

March 13, 2010 Hercules beetle larva: July 24, 2010

March 13, 2010; July 24, 2010

Hercules beetle larva: November 20, 2010 Turning into a beetle: May 30, 2011

November 20, 2010; May 30, 2011

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  • Jibril

    Cool pics I’ve never seen beetle larvae that big

  • Weesel

    What gorgeous creatures!

  • Woah. Once I’d gotten over my initial shock, followed by a touch of disgust, I realised that Red Jim is incredibly beautiful. I’m squeamish when it comes to bugs – I ran away from a large cockroach only yesterday. But your post has made me reevalute my attitude. If you can love them, I should try to at least not hate them!

    • verypurpleperson

      I’m really afraid of cockroach too! Just imagining them crawling makes me shiver, which might be strange since I have no problem with this beetle.
      But beetle has some kind of a little face with black beady eyes under those giant scissors, and I think the face looks gentle, like a cow’s face or something. They also have a faint sweet smell like fruits, maybe because of what they eat. When we walk in the woods and smell that, we know that there’s a stag beetle/rhino beetle nearby. It’s the smell of summer 🙂

  • “Anyway, if you ever got the chance to have one of this thing clinging to your skin or clothing, don’t pull it off.”

    oh, no, don’t worry, i won’t. i’ll simply run shrieking until we both die of fright.

    • verypurpleperson

      LOL! I admit that if I’d met a beetle this huge before I came to Japan, I would sure do the same thing! I guess you just have to get used to them 😀

  • How fascinating! I used to have a Giant African Land Snail called Brian who was pretty ginormous, but I never let him climb on my arm. I hope he lives out his beetle days happily with Sidra.

    • verypurpleperson

      Oooh that sounds interesting! I’ve seen pictures of the snail and it really is a giant! Never saw a real one here though 🙂

  • Zuhal

    So interesting, and on the photo where he is eating, he looks beautiful, a golden sprenkled back.
    My son, who is 8, loves insects, too. He would love to have a beetle like Sidra had.
    But we only have had some lady beetle every year on our balcony,because we pick up some larva from outside and let them crawl on our plants.

    The “insect shops” sounds like a fantastic place!

  • Layla

    hooray! I loved following Red Jim’s life cycle on your blog – thanks for all the photos 🙂

  • 6″! That thing is huge! I remember ohhing over the grub but wow! I don’t know if I could let it climb on me, I grew up on a farm! LOL

  • Naomy

    Holy moly!
    I remember you posting pictures of him early on,i always wondered how he was!
    I hope you can enjoy him for as long as he lives.
    And i agree you should make a beetle plushie! !

  • Wow! That is crazy big, almost as long as my forearm! I’m glad other kids love giant bugs as much as I did (and still do) when I little. At a summer camp I once found a huge elephant stag beetle. It was so cool!

  • Wow! That’s so exciting! And amazing! I know metamorphosis is a well known phenomenon but it must be so exciting to see it for yourself. Thanks for sharing!

  • I was going to ask yesterday how your grub was going, I’ve been wondering about him. Thanks for the update. You are adventurous letting him loose on you, his mouth is little but he looks a bit intimidating.

  • Hello from Christchurch, New Zealand. I have recently found your blog and am hooked.

    We don’t really have large bugs in New Zealand so I am not sure what my kids would make of yours. We visited Queensland Australia a few months ago when they had a plague of beetles hit the beach area. They were only small but my kids hated them….it made a really funny photo opportunity seeing them running down the street trying not to step on them which was impossible,LOL

  • Wow! That’s a big beetle. I have to say that my conversions aren’t so great. I had no idea how many inches 15cm was. So I had to look at the measuring tape to see. He’s huge. But so very cool!

  • uuu, aaaaa:D
    if I meet so big beetle, I swoon…..think that the end of the world present:D

  • As much as it frightens me, it IS pretty cool.. Redojiimu.. haha, ‘no reason.’. Sidra is the cutest. Kawaii-desu!

  • Jenny in New York

    Great! Your photos elicited gleeful childhood beetle stories from my (Japanese) husband. He says that he was given larva by someone who lived in the countryside. He also found the adult beetles at night by lights. They are also attracted to watermelon rinds. He grew up in Tohoku –so, maybe the beetles are regional? There is also some kind of similar “scissorhead” beetle. He was surprised to learn that we don’t have these huge beetles in the U.S.!

  • I didn’t know about Hercules beetles, and their life stages. Its amazing the things you can learn on the internet! We may have to do something like that. We have done butterflies and I think we are going to be getting an ant farm soon…

  • aaaawwwww he’s going to die now?! I’ve been following the story for a while now! maybe even the first post (I can’t remember lol) & now i’m sad

  • I’m so glad to see him! I have been fascinated by your pet ever since I started reading your blog a year ago. He looks amazing.

  • Amazing and wonderful! I wish we had the option of having a Hercules beetle as a pet, as that would be so fascinating. 🙂 Do you think you’ll eventually come up with a pattern for a beetle toy to go with your cockroach one?

    • verypurpleperson

      That is a wonderful idea! I might think about it 🙂

  • I too am new to the beetle aspect of your life and am AMAZED. I kinda freaked when I clicked over and saw it on your arm! I’m amazed that these are pets. I wonder if it would be legal in Australia to have one… I gather this is a common pet in Japan and they are easy to obtain? I looked at your previous post just now, Redojiimu was really very cute in his larval stage. I’m suprised to be saying that about an insect. I go more for the mamallian pets personally. I never knew people had beetles as pets… spiders maybe… Wow :o) Definitely the most original thing I’ve ever seen among my blogs! I think he has had the nicest life it is possible for a beetle to have living with your family!

    • verypurpleperson

      Most Japanese boys are crazy about insects, especially beetles. Sidra has a giant beetle poster in bedroom, and a thick encyclopedia about beetles. In summer, sometimes we go for beetle hunting in the woods at night with other kids. But Hercules beetle can’t be found in Japanese woods, I think they’re from Central America, and has to be bought from store.
      We can find specialized pet shop for insects easily, like the one we got our beetle from. It’s funny looking at these insects shop, they look like some kind of laboratorium. There are stacks of jars everywhere, with larva of different stages inside. There are adult beetles too in the shop, but only in small numbers as they only have little time left to live.

      • aeon

        While I understand the fascination, I worry that your blogposts might really encourage people to try the same. Please, don’t. Please.

        I’m *very* sure these beetles are *very* rare, and collecting their larvae is possibly not the best thing to do to a population. And I really doubt they do reproduce in captivity.

        Just one example: a couple of years ago, madagascan hissing cockroaches were quite fashionabel. Madagascar had to pass special laws to try to impede collectors – and still, they are extracted by the thousands. I hope they are not at the brink of extinction. However, it’s not uncommon at all that natural populations go extinct because of collectors. We’ve seen the same pattern all over again. In Cacti, in Bromeliads, in poison arrow frogs, in sea and land turtles, in Pandinus scorpions, you name it. Insects as well. The larger, the more vulnerable they are.

        That’s why CITES was born. But CITES is to slow to react to a market moving fast…

        Best thing: buy only from breeders you know personally. Get involved. Breed yourself.

        Oh, and by the way: normally, it is a bad idea to release exotic plants or animals…

  • lou

    OMG. i completely missed your beetle story and i must say.. i’ve never seen such a big beetle. holy moly. this is one giant insect. i’m not sure whether i would want to have such a bug in my house but it’s amazing that your boy loves it so much. bet he had a good time with sidra 🙂