Beetle, not cockroach!
When they first see it, many people think that Titanus giganteus looks like an enormous cockroach, because of its:
- flattened body
- long, relatively soft wing cases
- long spiny legs
- long antennae
- they make a loud hissing sound by expelling air from their ‘spiracles’ (or breathing holes) along the sides of the body
- they also have defensive spines on the inside margins of the legs (absent in the female) and on the sides of the thorax
- and an impressive pair of ‘nutcracker’ jaws that can break a pencil or make star shaped cracks in a plastic ruler
- large birds
- large fish (when they fly into the water)
- mammals, such as:
- larger monkeys
- smaller cats such as ocelot and margay
- mink-like tayra
- north Brazil
- the Guianas
Life History and Behavior
Physiology and Cell Biology
Adults can grow up to 6.5 inches (16.7 cm) in length. Of all known beetles, only the Hercules beetle, Dynastes hercules, in which giant males occasionally can grow to 7 inches (over 17.5 cm), is longer than the Titan beetle, but the Hercules beetle males have an enormous horn on the pronotum or thorax making up around half of its total length. As such, the body of the Titan beetle is considerably larger than that of the Hercules beetles. It is known that the short, curved and sharp mandibles can snap pencils in half and cut into human flesh. Adult titan beetles do not feed, searching instead for mates.
The larvae have never been found, but are thought to feed inside wood and may take several years to reach full size before they pupate. Boreholes thought to be created by titan beetle larvae seem to fit a grub over two inches wide and perhaps as much as one foot long. A famous "life-size" photograph of a putative larva of this beetle appeared in National Geographic magazine, filling an entire page, but it was of a different species of beetle, possibly Macrodontia cervicornis.
The adults defend themselves by hissing in warning and biting, and have sharp spines as well as strong jaws.
Titanus giganteus at the Montréal Insectarium
-  University of Florida Book of Insect Records
- Zahl, P. A. (1959): Giant insects of the Amazon. Natl. Geogr. Mag. 115 (5): 632-669.
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