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Book Review - For the Love of Rhinoceros and Stag Beetles - 2nd Edition


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Very few books can claim that it is the “Bible of . . . " However the second edition of For the Love of Rhinoceros and Stag Beetles reaffirms its title in the domain of beetle breeding. In 2001, the first edition of the book was published simultaneously in English and Chinese and written by Jonathan Lai. It was neither a volume about insect taxonomy nor a book about insect vulgarization. It was all about the art of beetle husbandry, an unheard hobby at the time. Although beetle rearing was already very popular in Japan and finding beetle literature in that country was easy, getting hold of information about beetle breeding was a rarity outside the Land of the Rising Sun. The first edition was beautifully illustrated and covered the major genus (Lucanidae, Dynastidae and Cetonidae) that were reared in the hobby.

It single-handedly launched the popularity of beetle keeping in Taiwan and helped numerous other beetle breeders around the world.   The second edition of For the Love of Rhinoceros and Stag Beetles is co-authored by Jonathan Lai and Ko Shin-ping, a professional beetle breeder. It is published in a two-volume set and includes both English and Chinese instructions. It picks up where it left off with everything a breeder needs to know to successfully raise beetles. It covers many of the same material as the first edition. However the author has gained further experience since the first edition and, with the collaboration of other professional breeders, the book now includes further beetle rearing knowledge, more breath-taking time lapsed pictures and even corrected facts from the previous edition.

Volume I explains the different level of decay found in wood which is needed to make successful beetle substrate. It also reveals the secret of making flour-fermented wood substrate (a question often raised but seldom explained in beetle rearing forums) to encourage your beetle larvae to reach maximum size. It covers most of the major Rhinoceros (Dynastidae) Beetles such as: Megasoma, Chalcosoma and the various Dynastes species such as D. granti, D. tityus, D. hyllus and D. neptunus. A very extensive chapter is dedicated to D. Hercules and its various forms, all shown in life size photos.

One single chapter summarizes the Flower (Cetonidae) Beetles while another one is dedicated to the Goliathus beetle. To the newcomer who wants to try his hand with the Goliathus, this chapter contains information which is crucial to the success of its rearing. However, to the experienced breeder who has perused the net to find breeding info about Goliathus rearing techniques, he will find that it is the same article printed on Natural Worlds by German breeder, Karl Meier. Finally, the volume is completed by Rutelini scarabs (by well known American breeder, Orin McMonigle) and Long-arm scarabs (Euchirinae), a genus missing from the previous publication.

Volume II is mostly concentrated on Stag (Lucanidae) beetles such as the various Dorcus, Prosopocoilus, Odontolabis and Lucanus genus. Identification keys are included to differentiate the different subspecies and maximum specie sizes (when available) are given. Other subjects included are: Mating and Oviposition, Larval Sex Determination and Mites. In my opinion, the Holy Grail is the recipe for making your own kinshi bottles. Kinshi has been the one factor which has allowed Japanese breeders to dominate the beetle breeding hobby. All the record size specimens have been produced in Japan. The magical kinshi consists of allowing mushroom mycelium to colonize a wood substrate. Stag beetle larvae who consume such substrate grow at tremendous rate and emerge into major adults. The step by step illustrated instruction is just priceless!

The two volumes consist of individual chapters, each explaining the specific rearing techniques in terms of breeding conditions, egg laying requirements and larval care of a particular specie. Pictures of the beetle in various states (egg, larva, pupa and imago) are illustrated. As an owner of the first edition, I realized that much of the information would be repeated in this new version but the addition of the new photos and the updated breeding techniques were more than enough to make it an enjoyable experience. However, one flaw which was present in the first edition was again found in the new one: the under-representation of the Flower Beetle (Cetonidae) family. Flower beetle species consist of 30% of all species found in breeding and yet, only two chapters (one general Flower Beetle chapter and one Goliathus chapter) were included. Comparatively, the Dynastes hercules family was described to all the known sub-species.

 In conclusion, the second edition of For the Love of Rhinoceros and Stag Beetles is a must have for all serious coleopterists, whether breeder or not. Much of the information surrounding the breeding behaviors of beetles has come from the beetle breeding community. The authors succeed in passing all the required knowledge from A to Z to all newcomers and experienced breeders are bound to find a few surprises.

The book is available: here .    

Authors: Jonathan Lai, Ko Shin-ping
468 pages/850 full-color photographs
43 chapters
Text in both English and Mandarin Chinese
Each set contains two books and one box
The whole set is 4 cm thick
Dimensions: 19.4 cm x 27.4 cm
ISBN: 978-957-41-5817-1

Jayson runs Insect-Collection during his free time. Although he does not breed beetles himself, he knows many breeders from around the globe.

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