Buffalo Beetles (Eudicella)
The genus Eudicella includes many popular and easy
to rear flower beetles with similar life cycles and captive breeding
requirements. They exhibit a wide diversity of colors and even vary
considerably within species and subspecies. From a taxonomic aspect, the
genus is somewhat difficult. There are some species and many subspecies
whose existence is controversial. Various taxonomic sources disagree. In
this article, taxonomic structuring is secondary. The scientific names
presented here are those commonly used by breeders and resources.
The genus Eudicella belongs to the family Cetonidae.
The genus includes over 20 species and at least 50 subspecies. The Y-shaped
horn on the male’s head is characteristic of the
genus. Male E. euthalia and E. schultzeorum can grow to 50
mm and females can attain 35 mm. However, males of most species only reach
a maximum of 40 mm and females about 30 mm. The pronotum is usually green
or red. They elytra are often green with brown, yellow, red or white
stripes -or- yellow with black spots. These flower beetles are native to
following species or subspecies are presently in culture:
gralli alaeri (thiryi)
gralli mechowi hubini
smithi bertherandi „Jade-headed Buffalo Beetle“
Basic Equipment and Breeding Conditions
Terrarium for egg laying – any covered, glass or transparent cage with
good ventilation in which a minimum 15 cm level and 10 liter volume of
substrate can be reached. I use glass terrariums of 25 cm lenght, 40 cm
width by 35 cm height. The cage is ideal for 5 – 10 adults. Remember to
place several pieces of bark or branches in the terrarium for crawling nad
mating beetles and, of course, a dish for feeding.
The most important condition for egg laying is humidity of the
substrate. The moisture content of the substrate must be average; not
soggy and not dry. Use a moist substrate with 2-3 cm of dry leaves on
the surface. Additional moistening is unsuitable and also unnecessary if
the substrate is right. Hight humidity in the breeding cage may invite an
outbreak of mites or entomophagus fungi.
Boxes for larvae – plastic or glass boxes, with a substrate level of
at least 10 cm. The volume of the substrate should be 10 liters or more to
prevent drying out of the substrate. Large, deep boxes do not need to be
covered but the substrate should be at least 5 cm below the top to prevent
escape of grubs. Small or shallow boxes must be covered but require some
ventilation. Larvae can be kept separately in small, covered, plastic
containers with 0.25-0.5 liter of substrate.
room temperature around 23-25°C (73-77 Fahrenheit) is ideal, although
fluctuations from 18°C (58 F) to 30°C (86 F) are acceptable.
Lighting regime – terrariums with adults should be placed in a bright
place, out of direct sunshine. Light should be provided for at least 12
hours daily. I keep adults in regime of 15 hours of light per day. The
light source must be outside the terrarium; intensity of 15-25 watts is
Substrate – in general, the genus Eudicella is not choosy about
the exact composition of the substrate, more important are adequate
volume, quality and humidity. Primarily, I use substrate from materials
collected in nature. I collect the components only from known places,
where pesticides, fertilizers etc. have not been used.
decomposing leaves of beech and oak are the best;
maple, birch, lime, poplar, apple trees and many others are also suitable
rotten wood from the same type of trees
old cow dung
Old, decayed leaves are the most important part of the substrate for
breeding Eudicella. The leaves must be partly decomposed, from
places where several years‘ level is found. Pieces of wood, sticks and
woody soil found in the leaves are not a problem. The ideal time to
collect leaves starts several days after heavy rains, when the humidity of
the leaves is suitable and additional watering is not needed. Leaves shoul
be broken into small pieces by a garden crusher or grinder. Crushed leaves
can be stored in plastic bags in a dark, cool place. Old leaves comprise
50% to 100% of the substrate for breeding Eudicella.
Well-rotted wood from trees of the same species can be used. The wood must
be crushed into small pieces. Rotten wood is an alternative substrate and
can be used as 100% of the substrate. Depends on local conditions and what
is easiest for the breeder.
Not everyone is willing to use dung, nor can everyone easily collect it.
Larvae feed and grow well on old cow manure. Finding good material is a
little difficult. The dung has to be several months old and collected in
pasture areas where no pesticides and no veterinary medications have been
used in cattle breeding. Material can be collected from a good area and
stored on plastic bags for over a year. dry cow dung can be stored for
several years. The aged cow dung can be used as a supplement for feeding
larvae – up to 30% of the substrate. Small, slightly wet pieces of dung
can be buried in the bottom of the substrate.
Composted grass and garden wastes (without much soil) is also a good
supplement for feeding larvae. Compost can be used instead of cow dung,
likewise about 30% volume of substrate.
For egg laying I recommend a substrate of 100% crushed
leaves and for larvae a mixture of 60% leaves, 30% old dung and 10%
Feeding adults – slices of banana, watermelon, sugar melon, and most
fruit are acceptable. Eudicella prefer bananas. I recommend placing
banana slices on a small dish, spray lightly with water and add several
drops of real maple syrup or honey. g every other day is sufficient. The
importance of feeding adults protein is a question. Sometimes,
Eudicella adults, especially females, feed on
small larvae. This may be due to a desire for protein. Some breeders
sprinkle fish food flakes on the banana or offer soft pieces of dog or cat
food. The additional protein might slightly increase adult
longevity and egg production.
After mating, the
females begin to lay eggs in the lower level of the substrate. Usually
they deposit from 20 to 50 eggs. I have had a maximum of 90 from a single
female. In 2-3 weeks, small, white larvae hatch (first instar or L1). A
few aggs may not hatch several weeks or months.
Following about 2 weeks of feeding the larvae molt into
second instar (L2) and after 1 - 2 months into third instar (L3). L3 are
very glouttonous. After 5 - 6 months of feeding the white larvae change to
a creamy yellow and then construct oval cocoons from the substrate. 2 - 3
months after pupal cell formation they become adults. During this time the
larvae change into prepupae, then pupae and finally adults. Young adults
are soft and vulnerable at first. Once the exoskeleton hardens, they leave
the cocoons. The newly emerged adults are very active and feed and mate
for hours. As adults Eudicella live 2 - 3 months, occasionally 5
months or more. Their activity and reproductive ability rapidly declines
with age. Total time taken from egg to adult is 7 - 10 months.
Recommendation for Breeding
Choose a good pair or group of beetles. More females
are better. Provide one male for 2 - 3 females. Surplus males fight each
other and disturb females during feeding and egg laying. Place no more 10
adults in a 30 - 40 l terrarium with 10 - 15 liters of substrate. Beetles
used for breeding should look healthy, have typical colors and be good
sized. The males should have well-developed horns. Don't breed
adults with heavy deformities, like protruding wings, scission of elytra,
males with misshapen or cutaway horns, individuals with salient genitals
or extremely tiny adults. Don't worry about minor deformities of the
elytra, which were probably caused during ecdysis in the cocoon.
If mating and feeding proceed successfuly, check the substrate after 4 - 6
weeks. When searching for grubs, first scoop the dry upper level into a
container. Place the moist lower lewel with the eggs in a different
container. Larvae can be found in both levels of the substrate. Check
carefully and remove all grubs. Then, put back the lower level and add
some new substrate. Next, put the dry substrate on top and return the
terrarium to its original shape. Repeat this procedure every 2 - 4 weeks.
It is necessary to remove grubs because older larvae can kill eggs and
small, newly hatched larvae. Keep the substrate 2 - 3 months after the
parents die because larvae from late developing eggs may still be found.
Place the grubs in bexes with fresh substrate. Eudicella larvae are
usually kept together. To reduce cannibalism and ensure enough food, place
no more then 50 L1-2 or 30 L3 into 10 liters of substrate. Due to the high
concentration in the rearing box, a few will get eaten or be disturbed
during pupal cell construction. If there are only a small number of grubs
or it is a new, rare species, keep the grubs separately to prevent
It is important to maintain the quantity and quality of substrate when
raising larvae. When the frass (excrement) makes up 50 % or more of the
substrate, place larvae in new boxes with fresh substrate. Substrate
should be changed about three times before maturity. This means one larva
consumes approximately 1 liter of substrate. When ful-grown grubs begin to
turn yellow, use slightly drier substrate, particularly drier on the
Larvae usually construct cocoons in the middle of the substrate. Some
species form cocoons on the side or bottom of the cage. Do not interrupt
cocoon construction. If the larvae are disturbed, they abandon incomplete
cocoons and cannot make a new one and finish their development.
Although is best not to disturb cocoons, it is possible to remove older,
hardened cocoons from the breeding box. Place them in damp substrate to
prevent desiccation. If cocoons dry up the adults may be deformed. Newly
emerged individuals can be placed in the breeding terrarium.
Problems in Breeding
I believe the main problem in breeding Eudicella and many other
genera is a complex of negative phenomenon, observable as degenerative
changes. These changes are encountered primarily in long-term, captive-bred,
closed populations. The cause may be inbreeding over multiple generations
along with the very different captive conditions versus natural conditions.
The most common problem is deformities of the exoskeleton as mentioned
previously. Other problems include an inability to transform to adult,
decreased size of adults, decreased collection of eggs, decreased
fertility and extinction of the population.
Solution to these problems are:
exchange of breeding material between separated populations
use of only healthy, flawless individuals for breeding
import of wild individuals to augment the gene pool
Other troubles, like mites, nematodes and entomophagus fungi are not
common as long as the principles from the previous text are adhered to.
Species and subspecies in this genus willingly hybridize. Hybrids usually
exceed their parents in size, are chracterized by elevated fertility and
highly variable coloration. This partly explains why the classification of
Eudicella is so difficult. Hybrid individuls often resemble some
described species and subspecies. Some wild-cought specimens may be
uncommon, natural hybrids. Part of breeders are against hybridization and
prefer breeding pure species and subspecies. I think controlled
hybridization is acceptable for breeders who want to obtain interesting
material for dead specimens. It is important to label dead hybrid
specimens for taxonomic purposes and even more important to mark live
Interspecific hybrids between Eudicella woermani and Eudicella
gralli ssp., Eudicella smithi ssp. and Eudicella gralli
ssp. are well known.
Oldrich Jahn: (September 2002) Buffalo Beetles in Breeding,
Invertebrates-Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 4, publishing Elytra and Antenna,
way of breeding could be successfuly used for almost all others flower
beetles, like genus Chelorrhina, Mecynorrhina, Dicronorrhina,
Smaragdesthes, Neptunides, Genyodonta, Ranzania etc.
(2.55cm = 1 inch. 1 liter = roughly a ¼