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Richard Fabi

Rhinoceros beetle male (Oryctes nasicornis) © Richard Fabi

European rhinoceros beetle

Richard Fabi

Fast facts

  • Latin name: Oryctes nasicornis
  • Notable feature: Males have a long curved horn used to battle other males for the female’s affections whilst the females are hornless.
  • Rarity in UK: Rare / Common
  • Where in the UK: Worcestershire

Children (and many adults) may recognise this charismatic insect as Dim, the rhinoceros beetle from the Disney film ‘A Bug’s Life’.

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The European rhinoceros beetle lives throughout mainland Europe; as far north as Scandinavia and spreads outwards towards Pakistan and North Africa. Although found in a large number of countries, in some areas it is considered rare and has been given legal protection.

It is absent from the UK, although a discovery last month of a female specimen in a Worcestershire back garden has caused a stir amongst experts. 

Rhinoceros beetles are some of the strongest beetles in the world, able to life up to 850 times their own body weight. The European rhinoceros beetle can reach up to 6cm, and although this makes it one of the smaller species of rhinoceros beetle, it is still one of the largest and heaviest beetles found in Europe.

The wing cases are a dark brown with a glazed appearance giving it the impression of a shiny conker and the legs and the underside of the body are covered with long red hair.

The larvae live on dead, rotten wood and can be found in rotting wood stumps and in sawdust. Taking around two years to develop in the larval stage, the adults emerge between March to May, flying around at dusk time. The adults do not feed and live up until the Autumn.

Since the discovery in Worcestershire, Buglife are investigating whether the European rhinoceros beetle is actually breeding in the wild, or an escapee.

Members of the public are asked to submit any sightings to info@buglife.org.uk but be careful not get the European rhinoceros beetle confused with any look-alikes. Use Buglife's Rhinoceros beetle ID guide for help.

Angie Hill

Rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes nasicornis) © Angie Hill

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