Would you like a pet rhino

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					                     Would you like a pet rhino?
There are more beetles in the world than any other group of insects. They come in a
great range of sizes, colours and shapes. One of the largest is the Rhinoceros beetle.
The Rhinoceros beetle grubs provided in your kit are commonly found in gardens in
tropical Queensland. This species is called Xylotrupes gideon.
  Rhinoceros or Rhino
beetles belong to a big
                                                                             Don’t be scared!
family of beetles                                                             Although their horns may
known as scarabs. Scarabs have                                              look ferocious, Rhino beetles
special antennae with fans on                                               can only pinch very weakly.
their tips. Other familiar scarab                                           Their mouth parts are used for
beetles are dung beetles,                                                   feeding, and are so small they
Christmas beetles and cane bee-                                             don't pose a threat to humans.
tles, which damage the roots of             Male Rhinoceros Beetle            Rhino beetles are harmless
sugar cane. Although the                  sap of young shoots of many       and can be handled safely -
grubs may look similar,                     trees - a favourite is the      although you should always
Rhinoceros beetles don't                     Poinciana trees which          wash your hands first so that
damage cane, so don't kill them!          have been planted in our          you don't harm the beetle.
                                      parks and streets. Sometimes            Don't be frightened by the
  Rhinoceros beetles are one of       large groups of them can be seen      loud hissing squeaks they make
the most spectacular beetles in       on a single tree, perhaps as part     when disturbed. It’s just a bluff,
Australia. They are found from        of their mating behaviour. But it's   produced by rubbing the
south-east Asia through the           rare for them to permanently          abdomen against the ends of the
islands of Indonesia to the           damage the tree.                      wing covers (elytra). If you
Solomons and Australia.                                                     examine a squeaking beetle
  They can grow up to                  Life cycle                           closely, you can see the
7cm long. The male is                   Although Rhinoceros beetles         abdomen moving in time with
easily identified by the forked       fly all year round, they are seen     the squeaks. This noise-making
horns on his head and thorax.         more frequently during the            is called stridulating.
Horn size is important when           summer months around a street           The serrated claws on the ends
fighting. When two males meet         light or porch light. They are also   of the beetle’s legs help it when
around a female, the males butt,      found in fruit such as over-ripe      clinging, digging and mating.
toss and try to push each other off         pawpaws left on the tree.       They may also grip onto your
the tree branch. The larger male                 The female beetle lays     clothing or your finger. Most
usually wins. Villagers in north-                about 50 white eggs in     people react by trying to pull
ern Thailand keep Rhino beetles                 decaying plant matter.      the beetle off, which just
as pets. They place them on a                They take about 10 days to     encourages a tighter grip. Use
bamboo cylinder with females          hatch and the grubs begin feeding     gentle persuasion instead.
inside and gamble on whose            on the organic matter. (Compost       Simply pat the beetle on the
beetle will win the fight.            bins are popular nurseries for        rear and it will slowly move off.
  Rhinoceros beetles feed on the      these beetles.)
                  Buy an insect kit and let’s take a closer look!
   1. What is a life history? It’s      there any rhino beetle grubs?
   the complete cycle of your pet       Find another habitat - maybe an
   insect’s development over time.      area with more leaf litter under a
   You can begin your study at any      shady tree - and dig again. Do
   time - because it is a cycle!        you find more or less insects?
                                        Why? Don’t forget to put the soil
   Form groups of 4-5 students and
                                        and insects back!
   share out the larvae. Each group
   looks after its own larva. Once a    3. How rhinos help. Insects
   week measure your larva’s            play a vital role in the environ-
   weight and length. When you          ment by recycling nutrients.          The kits are available from $45 plus
   have observations for all stages     They are also a major food            postage from the Australian Insect
                                        source for many birds, mammals        Farm (07) 4063 3860 or
   of the life cycle, you can
                                        and reptiles. Prepare a list of
   describe your insect’s life histo-
   ry. Present the information on a     environmental roles in the vari-
   graph, using a computer printout     ous life stages of your insect.
                                                                                5. Follow the trail. Beetle
   or an illustrated poster and com-    Explain their ecological impor-       grubs help to aerate the soil - a
   pare the results with other          tance.                                major component to any healthy
   groups. Some students have           4. Compost Comparisons.               garden. Find a wide, flat tray at
   studied growth variations by         When changing over the mulch,         least 3cm deep. Add a 1cm layer
   varying the food supply.             keep the old pellet-filled soil and   of clean, dry, fine sand or saw-
                                        use it in an experiment. Buy          dust. Place a couple of grubs in
    2. Do the Hula Hoop Dig.                                                  the dish and map their trails.
   Place a hula hoop on the school      some seedlings (eg. basil or
   oval grass. (Ask the groundkeep-     parsley) and plant them in pots,       6. Introduce composting. Does
   er first!) Using small gardening     one using the pellets added to        your school tuckshop compost its
   forks, dig up the area inside the    the potting mix and another           waste? Research how compost-
   hula hoop to a maximum depth of      using pure potting mix. Record        ing works and have a debate
   10cm and see how many insects        the growth of each plant. Which       about whether it should be intro-
   you find. What are they? Are                                               duced at your school.
                                        plant grows the best?

    Caring for                             Farm for some new organic          end of the school year you can
                                              mix (costs $4-$5, phone         release the beetles in the school
    grubs                                      07-4063 3860). When            grounds. Alternatively, a keen
      The grubs have a                         fully grown (around            teacher or student may like to take
    translucent creamy-                        September or October )         the beetles home and breed their
    white body with fine,                     the larva forms a cell in       own larvae for next year.
    reddish hairs and a dark                the soil and lines it with its
                                        own droppings which solidify
                                                                               Any questions?
    brown head. They can grow                                                   If you have any questions or
    up to 7cm long, almost filling      into a waterproof layer. The
                                                                              you need assistance with any
    the palm of your hand. Always       larva then turns into a pupa
                                                                              insect-related issues, please
    wash your hands before touch-       inside the cell.
                                                                              phone Sue Hasenpusch on:
    ing any insects, avoid using                                              (07) 4063 3860 or email:
    insect repellent sprays and          Caring for beetles
    handle them gently. The insect        After 6-12 weeks the adult
                                                                              is also a wealth of information
    kits contain clean organic          beetle hatches out and digs its
                                                                              on the following websites:
    mulch, the ideal diet for grow-     way to the surface. The beetles
                                        can be up to 7cm long and live for    Australian Insect Farm
    ing rhino grubs. They eat the
                                        about 2-4 months. Once the bee-
    mulch and create natural rhino
    poo fertiliser. In a few months     tles hatch, place a piece of old      Queensland Museum
    (July) when the larvae have         fruit such as pawpaw in their con-
    converted nearly all the mulch      tainer every day. If you live in      WTMA
    to pellets, contact the Insect      Tropical North Queensland, at the
                                                                              Larva illustration: Geoff Thompson, Qld Museum

       Wet Tropics Management Authority
     PO Box 2050 Cairns QLD Australia 4870
Ph: (07) 4052 0555

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