Frigate island giant beetle (Polposipus herculeanus)

Frigate island giant beetle

Inside Tropical World

Fast facts

Status Vulnerable

Size 20-30mm

Gestation From egg to larvae: 2 weeks.

Life span Unknown in the wild, up to 7 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Frigate island giant beetles will feed on fungi, lichen on tree trunks, algae and fruit.

These animals are mostly active at night (nocturnal), and this is when they will go in search of food (forage). During the day these beetles will hide away together in groups within crevices and under flaking bark in trees and logs.

Where do I live?

The Frigate island giant beetle is only found on the Seychelles island of Frégate.

They can be found in coastal woodland habitats. When they reach their adult stage, these beetles are arboreal (live in trees) and prefer to live in trees such as the sangdragon tree.

Breeding

These beetles will lay their oblong yellow eggs in rotten logs. After 2 weeks the larvae will hatch, and will feed on the decomposing wood around them. Frigate island giant beetles go through 7 larval instars (moults) before becoming an adult.

For Frigate island giant beetles it will take roughly 6-8 ½ months from egg laying to becoming an adult. After emerging from their pupation stage to an adult it will be another 4-6 weeks until they are fully mature.

Conservation

Many populations of the Frigate island giant beetle were lost when areas of their habitat were cleared for farming. A fungal disease that affects the sangdragons trees that these beetles rely on may become a threat to the species. However one of the main problems that the Frigate island giant beetle has faced was the introduction of predators, such as rats, to their environment during the 1990’s.

These beetles were once classed as ‘Critically Endangered’ but they are now classed as ‘Vulnerable’. This has been achieved through research, captive breeding programmes and the removal of introduced predators (i.e. rats) from their habitat which started in 2001. Forest restoration programmes have also played a big part to save this species, as they have helped to restore and further protect their habitat. However these beetles could still face threats from future invasions of non native predators, natural disasters and climate change.

Did you know?

Frigate island giant beetles are one of the largest beetles found in the islands in the western Indian Ocean.

These beetles cannot fly, and also due to their large size they do not travel far so will normally stay within a small area.

The furthest recorded area that a Frigate island giant beetle has travelled is around 19 metres. Many individuals of these beetles appear to just stay on a single tree!

Frigate island giant beetles are able to produce a chemical from their rear end - this is used for defence. This chemical has a musky smell and can stain skin a purple colour!

As another measure to protect these animals, the DNA of the Frigate island giant beetle has been frozen and preserved in the ‘Frozen Ark’.

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