Summary: Goliath beetles are one of the heaviest insects in the world. They can only be found in Africa because they enjoy warm climates. Goliath beetles particularly like the rainforests of Africa because of abundant food sources.
Have you ever wondered what the heaviest insect in the world is? The African Goliath beetle certainly might qualify. It weighs about Â¼ of a pound. Whoa! The Goliath beetle derives its name from the Biblical story of David and Goliath. It can carry many times its own body weight. As large as it is, archaeologists have discovered fossils of beetles that were even greater in size than the Goliath beetle. Scientists concluded that the larger beetles may have not been able to survive as the temperature of the earth cooled.
Goliath beetles are a species of scarab beetle. The difference between a scarab beetle and any other type of beetle is the club at the tip of each antenna. Scarab beetles have layered antennae, the parts fitting together like pieces in a puzzle. Male Goliath beetles have Y-shaped horns on their heads, which they use to fight other males over mates and territory. This can be helpful to know if you have an assortment of beetles invading your backyard and you need to figure out what you're looking at. I guarantee none of them are Goliath beetles unless you happen to live in a rainforest or next door to a forgetful coleopterist.
This heavyweight beetle can be found in a rainbow of colors, including purple, black, green, blue, gold, and bronze. Adult Goliath beetles are usually either oval or circular in shape. They are around 5 inches in length, making them one of the longest insects in the world. They have claws on their legs that help them puncture vines to get to the liquids inside.
Beetles cannot fly as easily as other flying insects because their wings have a cover called an elytra. A beetle must pull its wings out from the elytra before flying, so flying does not present the best form of defense for any type of beetle. Instead, it usually scampers away if in the presence of humans or predators. A Goliath beetle will use its wings to fly towards light, making a noise that sounds like a helicopter flying by.
Female Goliath beetles lay their eggs in the rotting wood of rainforests during the wet season. The resulting larvae form cocoons that can grow up to 6 inches in length. The larvae subsist on the wood and other decaying matter as they grow, taking about four months to reach their adult size. These giant larvae need more protein than other scarab beetle larvae because of their size. When the larvae reach their pupal stage they come up out of the ground during the African tropical dry season.
These huge beetles have strong legs that cause them to walk rather awkwardly, but their legs are great for digging. They are also great climbers moving slowly through rainforest trees in search of decaying plant matter, sap and fruit.
Four species of Goliath beetles live in extremely warm temperatures, while one species lives in a more moderate climate. The warmer climate is more suitable for these gigantic beetles than the changing weather of North America. Even with the threat of global warming, Goliath beetles will not be bugging you.