Japanese rhinoceros beetle

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Japanese rhinoceros beetle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Scarabaeidae
Subfamily: Dynastinae
Genus: Allomyrina
Arrow, 1911
Species: A. dichotoma
Binomial name
Allomyrina dichotoma
(Linnaeus, 1771) [1]
  • Trypoxylus dichotomus
  • Allomyrina dichotomus

The Japanese rhinoceros beetle, Japanese horned beetle, or kabutomushi (カブトムシ?), Allomyrina dichotoma, is a species of rhinoceros beetle.


In Japanese, rhinoceros beetles are called kabutomushi (かぶとむし, also written 甲虫 or かぶと虫?). Mushi is Japanese for bug, and kabuto is Japanese for helmet. So, literally, it means helmet-bug referring to a samurai helmet.[2]

List of subspecies[edit]

  • Allomyrina dichotoma dichotoma
  • Allomyrina dichotoma inchachina
  • Allomyrina dichotoma septentrionalis
  • Allomyrina dichotoma takarai
  • Allomyrina dichotoma tunobosonis



Allomyrina dichotoma, male and female. Mounted specimen

Allomyrina dichotoma shows a striking sexual dimorphism. The males are much larger, reaching a length of 40–80 mm, while females can reach a length of about 40–60 mm. The long cephalic horn of this species has a characteristic shape in the form of the letter Y and it is used by males during the mating period and to maintain territories.[2] By means of their forked horn they lift other males off the ground and throw them into the air.[2] In addition to their impressive and ornate protuberance they also have a smaller thoracic horn, also forked. Their eyes may be white or red and are adapted to low light levels, as this species is nocturnal.[2] The body is dark brown, while the ventral part of the body is black, brilliant and the front legs are unusually long. Like all Dynastinae species, these beetles are strong flyers,[2] although they never cover long distances during the flight. The preferred foods are tree saps, fruits and anything sugary.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This species is present in Japan (Hondo and Kyūshū), Taiwan, Korea and eastern China.[4] It can be found in broad-leaved forests in tropical and subtropical mountainous habitats.


Third instar Larva (last step before metamorphosis)

The Japanese rhinoceros beetle will live most of its life underground,[2] for it only lives about four months as an actual beetle. The earliest beetles will come out of the ground in late spring; they will usually die around middle September to early October. They usually will die after mating and laying eggs.

The eggs are laid directly in the ground, then hatch into a wriggling larva, which usually mature in a year.[2] But life as an adult is short; in less than 4 months he must find and defend a territory and win over the fairer sex. To do this he must fight. Male beetles normally die in the fall after mating many times, whereas female beetles normally die after laying eggs.

Japanese scientists are trying to find supplements to make the Japanese rhinoceros beetle mature faster and grow to a larger size. Disturbing the beetle during its pupal stage is known to cause deformations in the beetle's physiology and possibly cause the beetle to die of shock. Touching the Japanese rhinoceros beetle too suddenly, even after it has metamorphosed, may also cause the beetle to die of shock.

Popular culture[edit]

Japanese rhinoceros beetle

Japanese rhinoceros beetles are very popular in anime, tokusatsu, advertisements, televisions, and films in Japan, including Digimon (Kabuterimon and many of its evolutions), Juken Sentai Gekiranger/Power Rangers: Jungle Fury, Kamen Rider Series 1, Stronger, Blade & Kabuto, Medabots (the Medabee model is based on the Rhinoceros Beetle), Megalon of Godzilla vs. Megalon, Mushiking: King of the Beetles, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger/Power Rangers: Ninja Storm, Pokémon (Heracross), Samurai Champloo, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman/Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, the Transformers Deluxe Insecticon, the Beast Wars Predacon, Ram Horn and the Maximal, Motorarm, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger/Power Rangers: Samurai, Tensou Sentai Goseiger/Power Rangers Megaforce, Chouseishin Gransazer, Juukou B-Fighter/Big Bad Beetleborgs, B-Fighter Kabuto/Beetleborgs Metallix, B-Robo Kabutack, Yu-Gi-Oh! (kuwagata alpha, kwagar Hercules. Hercules beetle), Kirby: Right Back at Ya! (besides appearing as rare foes, Kirby: Triple Deluxe has a Beetle Power based on the rhinoceros beetle), Sgt. Frog, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Sonic CD, Time Bokan, One Piece (Heracles, Sogeking's Atlas Suisei, and Boss), Naruto (Chomei/Seven Tails), Hajime No Ippo, Mega Man X3 (Gravity Beetle), Animal Crossing (called "dynastid beetle" in the English translation of the game, derived from the subfamily "dynastinæ"), Ben 10: Ultimate Alien/Ben 10 Omniverse (called "Eatle") and *Monster Rancher (Beaclon).

Many children in Japan buy or catch these beetles and breed them. Male and female insects will cost about 500 to 1000 yen (approximately five to ten US dollars). This beetle is sold as a pet in department stores[2] in many countries of Asia where it is also frequently depicted in popular media as a common cartoon character for various uses, for example much as gorillas, lions, or T. rex are seen in advertisements and product labels in the United States.

Main article: Insect fighting

Japanese rhinoceros beetles are a very popular subject in gambling, like Siamese fighting fish and cricket fights. In the most popular game, two different male beetles are placed on a log.[2] They will battle each other, trying to push each other off the log, the one to stay on the log is the winner. This is a huge source and loss of money to many people, especially in the Ryukyu Islands.



  1. ^ Linnaeus C. (1771) Carl Linnaeus Mantissa Plantarum, with an introduction by William T.Stearn, 6:137-588
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Japanese rhinoceros beetle in BBC Hidden Kingdoms
  3. ^ Catalogue of Life
  4. ^ Carnivora Forum

External links[edit]