Backyard Buddies
Rhinoceros Beetles

Photo: Donald Hobern

Rhinoceros Beetles

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At first glance Rhinoceros or Rhino Beetles might seem a little antisocial, but they are not only harmless but truly fascinating. These quirky shiny-black beetles grow to around 6 or 7 cm in length so you will definitely see them when they fly about. In fact, they are Australia's largest beetle.

Rhino Beetles only live in warm coastal tropical or subtropical climates, so in Australia they are mostly found in Queensland, the Northern Territory and northern New South Wales. If you go for a walk on a warm night in the tropics, you may even hear a Rhino Beetle's distinctive hissing sound.

Rhino Beetles have a very unique appearance, but don't judge a rhino on its looks. Even though they have big forked horns and tight gripping claws, they aren't strong enough or mean enough to hurt a human.

You can help look after Rhino Beetles in your Backyard

Get to know your rhinos. If you see a big black beetle in your garden but it doesn'۪t have the characteristic horn, you may still have found a Rhino Beetle. Only the males have horns; they use them to fight with other males to win the attention of their favourite females. Especially during summer months, female Rhino Beetles release special hormones to attract the males.

It's not just adult beetles that are big - Rhino Beetle babies are huge too. You will recognise them if you see one; they are c-shaped, white grubs with fine reddish hairs and a brown head. At full size, they can be up to 7 cm long and really plump. Rhino Beetle babies feed on decaying organic matter, so having a healthy compost bin in your backyard is a great way to attract female Rhino Beetles looking for somewhere to lay their eggs.

Like a lot of beetles and insects, Rhino Beetles are attracted to bright lights at night. You might find them collecting under your veranda lights or flying into your windows, so just turn off the lights or pull down the blinds to deter them.

Be a Backyard Buddy

Rhino Beetles get along so well with humans that they are even kept as pets in some parts of the world. But they're not always as kind to each other as they are to us. In summer, you might see big groups of males getting together to fight. They hiss and push each other off trees with their horns to impress any nearby females.

Adult Rhino Beetles love Poinciana trees, so if you have one at or near your house you could see a huge number of Rhino Beetles getting together for a feast. It might look like they are eating quite a lot of the leaves if there is only one tasty tree in the neighbourhood for them to meet at, but they rarely do any lasting damage to a tree.

Some of the Rhino Beetle'۪s scarab relatives, like the cane beetle, have a bad reputation for damaging the roots of sugar cane crops, but Rhino Beetles and their babies don'۪t eat any part of sugar cane at all.

Rhino Beetles love:

But they don't like:

Be a Buddy to Rhino Beetles

Try to:

Avoid:

Don't be surprised if Rhino Beetles:

A few more Rhino Beetle facts

Once they have reached adulthood, they only live for 2-4 months.

 

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”Birds, bugs, lizards and penguins are my favourite Backyard Buddies – I like to find, watch and learn about what they do and what I can do to help them.“

Gus – 11 year old Backyard Buddy, NSW

Photo: OEH