Smithsonian Snapshot

May 31, 2011

Titan Beetle

Titan beetle (Titanus giganteus)
Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

Titan beetle (Titanus giganteus)

The titan beetle (Titanus giganteus) is the largest known beetle in the Amazon rain forest and one of the largest insect species in the world. It typically lives in the rain forests of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, the Guianas and north-central Brazil. Adult titan beetles can grow up to 6.5 inches in length. They defend themselves against predators by using their sharp spines and strong jaws. It is said that their mandibles can snap pencils in half and cut into human flesh.

Like many large adult insects, titan beetles locate mates by flight and sensing air chemicals (pheromones).

This is the largest specimen of titan beetle in the National Entomological Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. This beetle measures 5.5 inches.