Atlas Beetles – A Quick Guide

The Atlas beetle, Chalcosoma Atlas, is one of the largest species of beetles in the world with a length of around 5 inches and their weight can go up to 100g. They are mainly found in Southeast Asia, particularly in the forests of Malaysia. They are a type of rhinoceros beetle.

Do Atlas beetles fight?

They fight in the mating season. Atlas beetles are one of the largest beetles on the planet. They have three large horns on their heads which are very strong. In the mating season, male Atlas beetles fight with each other on the trees.  They use their horns to flip their opponents causing them to fall from trees. Unperturbed they often climb up the tree again where another battle is waiting. The victor of these battles gets the right to mate.

How strong are Atlas beetles?

With an average weight of 100g, this beetle may look small but they have immense strength in their horns. Atlas beetles have been recorded as lifting more than 850 times their body weight. (source) To put that in perspective, it’s like humans lifting 9 elephants all at once. This amazing strength makes them one the strongest animals in the world relative to their size. Another rhino beetle, the Hercules beetle also has immense strength.

Atlas beetle
Atlas beetle

Are the larva of the Atlas beetle aggressive?

They are aggressive in nature; so, if you try to touch them, it could give you a nasty bite. So caution is needed if handling Atlas beetle larva. The larvae are also known to be very competitive when it comes to their survival. They can fight to the death with the other larvae if there is a shortage of space or food. The Atlas beetle larva uses rotten logs and tree stumps as a source of food.

Aggression doesn’t save them from the Giant Scoliid wasp, however, which preys on them. The wasp paralyzes the larva before taking it back to its burrow for its own offspring to consume alive. Read more about the Giant Scollid wasp here.

Can Atlas beetles fly?

They can fly but not very well. Atlas beetles might have super strength but when it comes to flying, their heavy body gets in the way. With their bulk, flying from the ground is a daunting task. Their solution is to fly off trees to help them get airborne. Because they are unable to fly long distances it has restricted this species from migrating from Southeast Asia to any other parts of the world.

How did the Atlas beetle get its name?

Atlas beetles are appropriately named after the titan in Greek mythology. Atlas of course is sentenced to the task of holding up the sky. And with the Atlas beetle’s great strength it would be the perfect candidate for such a task.