A Boas Rhinoceros Beetle is a beetle native to Africa that gets its name from the long, curved horn on the head. This horn is used as ornamentation to assist them in battle and to woo the choosey females. Research has shown that different types of Rhinoceros Beetle have evolved horns which differ slightly to facilitate species-specific fighting styles. Unfortunately, the adult beetles can be a pest of banana, coconut palms and sugar cane. Although, their larvae can be beneficial in the compost heap. They eat the decaying organic matter, helping soil decomposition and formation!
Beautiful and large beetles, whose larvae can be help to get things going in the compost heap.
The adults can be a pest of palms, banana and sugar cane.
Adult beetles are large insects (max length 4.5cm). They're shiny and maroon in colour (red-purple-brown). The horns are black, and it's sometimes possible to see the orange hairs poking outwards from beneath the protective wing casings (elytra). Likewise, there are light, vertical rows of indented tin dots on the elytra. The horn is only present on males, and they use this apparatus when fighting other males during the mating season. Larvae look like large C shaped grubs. They have red-brown heads and six legs directly beneath. They are sometimes found hiding beneath leaf litter or in compost heaps.
These beetles may bore into the hearts of palm leaves. Damaged young leaves will fall off the plant. May attack the areas of new growth. May feed from inside the host plant. Frass, which is insect excrement, may be visible on the leaves and stems of the plant. An overall die back in the host plants may be notable if the infestation is a heavy one. Will attack crops such as coconut, banana and sugarcane. Entry holes in palm stalks might be evident, sometimes there is an abundance of sawdust and insect frass that's been pushed out. Infestations can result in plant death. Indigenous plants can normally withstand damage form native insects.
Widespread across most of Africa, present in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
These beetles tend not to be a big problem in gardens. However, they can be economically important for large farming plantations, as well as smallholdings. Chickens can do a fabulous job clearing up grubs. When scarifying, you may reveal some overwintering grubs. These can be relocated somewhere the birds can find them! Likewise, keeping areas clear of leaf litter and debris make areas less attractive to these beetles. If boreholes are detected, you can use a sharp-pointed wire to remove them from the tree. Palm leaves should be checked regularly for eggs if you suspect an infestation. These are laid at the bases beneath the new leaves (soft-growing spots).
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