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How would you like to find THIS in your banana?The five-inch beetle who sailed to Britain from Costa Rica


By Andrew Levy

Last updated at 12:16 AM on 04th June 2008

He's not the sort of creature that could easily scuttle about unnoticed.


But somehow Bill the elephant beetle managed to sneak into a crate of bananas in Costa Rica and smuggle himself over here.


The beetle - which at 5in long is the size of a hamster - was discovered by workers at a fruit wholesalers.

They were amazed he had survived the two-week journey in chilly temperatures.


article-0-0178D19600000578-693_468x327.jpg Discovery: A male elephant beetle, the size of a hamster, was found in fruit from Costa Rica

Bill would also have been sprayed with pesticides designed to kill stowaways like him.


He was taken to Linton Zoo near Cambridge, where staff gave him his name.


Spokesman Kim Simmons said: "It's a very lucky and tough insect. These beetles are able to maintain their body temperature, but he was chilled to the extent that he was immobilised."

She added: "He looks quite aggressive but he's actually quite placid."

"He was kept at the fruit wholesalers for a couple of days but once he arrived here we warmed him up a bit and he became active.


"They are one of the biggest beetles in the world and when he first turned up he was 35g.

"He's been munching his way through bananas, mangoes and other fruit since then so I imagine he is probably a lot more than that.

"All that headgear is actually used to fight off rival males to protect his territory and fight for females. They fight the same way as deer - by locking horns."


Adult elephant beetles typically grow up to three-and-a-half inches long. Males are up to three times bigger than females.


They are found in Central and South American rainforests, southern parts of Mexico and Texas and Australia.


They are an endangered species because slash and burn policies in rain forests have reduced their mating grounds.


Females lay eggs in large, decaying logs where they take around three weeks to develop into larvae.


These large, white grubs, which have brown heads and six legs, spend 29 weeks gorging themselves on organic matter before entering a five-week pupal stage.


Adults, which eat sap and bark from certain trees or ripened fallen fruits, have a life-span of just four months.


With time running out for Bill, Linton Zoo yesterday appealed for any private collectors who have a female to get in contact.


Miss Simmons added: "It would be a shame for him to come all this way over here and die as a single creature.


"We are hoping someone out there has got a wonderful female to go with our Billy bug."


Ian Myers, of fresh produce distributor Chiquita Brands International, said: "Bananas are transported green at temperatures as low as two degrees C which keeps them in stasis.


"The odd locust or cricket comes over from the Tropics but I've never heard an elephant beetle mentioned before."



The Elephant Beetle can carry an astonishing 850 times its own weight - the equivalent of a 13st man lifting a 60-tonne Boeing 737 airliner.

  • Even when laden with 30 times its own weight the insect can move at its normal pace of half-an-inch per second.
  • Unlike a human brain, which handles all functions from a central source, the insects have separate nerve centres to control each leg, giving them the ability to carry heavy weights.
  • The system is so efficient that they use hardly any extra energy or oxygen to move heavy loads.
  • A close relative found in Thailand is used for wrestling matches on which large sums of money are wagered.
  • Two males are placed on a log and fight over a female which has been placed inside.

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HO-LEEEEE SHIT!!! I literally nearly screamed when I saw the picture! (I find insects fascinating, but I don't deal well with them up close,lol.) But it's cool that the little (not-so-little) guy survived.:)


But the question is, is it a squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetle??:rolleyes:

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