Taylor Piephoff, the Observer’s birding columnist, came across a winged creature so mighty it’s known as the rhinoceros of the beetle world.
Piephoff photographed an eastern Hercules beetle at a Mint Hill park Sunday night that he measured at 2 inches. Males, like Piephoff’s thumb-sized specimen, can reach nearly 2.5 inches.
The two horned pincers on a male beetle’s head are likely used to battle other males over territory, the website insectidentification.org says. The insects are harmless to humans because they can’t bite or sting.
The enormous beetles are fairly common in the Charlotte area in summer, Piephoff said, and are attracted to brightly-lit places such as tennis courts and ball fields.
The Hercules beetles are a species of rhinoceros beetle, which are reared as pets in parts of Asia. Anecdotal reports claim some rhino species can carry up to 850 times their body weight, although researchers have verified loads of only 100 times their body mass.