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Moneilema gigas are endemic to the deserts of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These beetles are large (up to about 5 cm excluding antennae) and shiny black. There is a light-grey ring on the fourth segment of the long antennae. The elytra are fused to a hardened shell, and the beetles are unable to fly.
The preferred hosts are chollas and prickly pears (Genus Opuntia). Adults are often seen feeding on soft portions of the cactus. Eggs are laid near the base of the plant, and larvae feed on both roots and stems (Linsley & Chemsak 1984, Phillips & Comus 2000).