We like big bugs and we cannot lie. Which is why we like the titan beetle (Titanus giganteus). Here are some answers to questions about the world’s biggest beetle.
How big is a titan beetle?
It can grow to be about six and a half inches long.
Where do titan beetles live?
They live deep in tropical rain forests in South America, especially north Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and the Guianas; most titans we see these days come from French Guiana.
Are they dangerous?
These huge bugs will hiss if threatened, but they’re not aggressive. They defend themselves with sharp spines and jaws strong enough to break a pencil, dent a plastic ruler, or cut a person’s flesh. So don’t mess with the titan!
How do they eat?
Titan larvae feed on decaying wood below the ground, then spend just a few weeks as adults. We don’t know much about this particular insect’s biology, but some similar beetles don’t eat in their adult forms.
So a beetle this big might not even eat?
We don’t know for sure, but one titan adult held captive for a few weeks was active (and would even fly if its environment got hot enough), but he refused to eat the fruit and sugar-water made available to him. Since, as noted, some adult bugs live entirely on calories consumed as larvae, titans may do that too.
How do they mate?
When the weather is at its hottest and most humid, they fly around looking for mates by following the scent of pheromones, which are airborne chemical attractants produced for mating purposes.
How are they caught?
Most male titans are caught at night, attracted by bright electric lights. Females aren’t drawn by such lights, so it’s hard to catch them. Before light trapping was possible, these beetles were extremely hard to find. In the 1910s, a titan was found in Brazil inside the stomach of a fish being prepared for dinner!
Are they endangered?
Sadly, yes. The titan beetle, like so many creatures, is threatened by the rapid destruction of its rainforest habitat.