13 Mayıs 2013 Pazartesi

American Samoa Territorial Insect

American Samoa Territorial Insect

Giant Longhorn Beetle (common name)
Titanus giganteus
(scientific name)


The giant longhorn beetle of American Samoa is one of the world’s largest insects and a creature native to the tropical forests of the South Pacific. It is one of 20,000 species of longhorn beetles worldwide. Longhorn beetles are distinguished by their sharp, long, horn-like antennae; large, powerful jaws; and formidable size. The largest of the world’s longhorns are 6.7 in (17 cm) long, but American Samoa’s are less than half that size. Longhorn larvae are known as afato in Samoa and are collected and eaten by the natives of Samoa, Fiji, and elsewhere in the South Pacific.


The longhorn has very long antennae, over twice as long as the body. Its exoskeleton is heavily armored. Males have longer antennae than females. The adult’s brown color allows it to camouflage itself against the bark of trees.
Wing span: 6 in (15.2 cm)
Total Length: 3 in (7.6 cm)
Larvae: 3 in (7.6 cm) long. White, fleshy, elongated, with powerful jaws and tiny legs.
10–12 years as a larva, 11 months as a pupa, and an unknown number of years as an adult.
Coastal forests with abundant rotting hardwood trees.
Range: Isolated pockets of the South Pacific including Samoa and American Samoa.
Flight period: Year-round
Conservation status: Not listed on the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, but protected under some local laws in the South Pacific. The beetle is threatened by destruction of native hardwood forests (although it has adapted to introduced trees), the use of the larva for fishing bait, the harvesting of larva for human consumption, and the trade in "pinned" specimens by collectors.
Longhorns find each other through pheromones exuded from male olfactory glands near the base of their antennae. Males will fight other males, sometimes to the death, for mating females. Females lay eggs in standing dead trees namely, mamalava, tufaso, buabua, mako, and tavai. After 12 years the larva morphs into a pupa (mulipuni). Eleven months later it emerges as a mature, winged adult. Adults feed at night and make a loud whirring noise as they fly. They are ungraceful flyers and their bulk makes their landings abrupt. When threatened the beetle makes a hissing noise.
Adults: Plants
Larvae: Wood
  • Giant longhorn beetles are traditionally eaten roasted and are considered a delicacy fit for tribal chiefs. The flavor of the grub is said to vary depending on the type of tree it fed on as a larva and pupa. The villages of Gataivai and Aopo in Savai'i are well known for harvesting many afato. They feed them coconut shavings and then eat them with coconut cream. Not surprisingly, these are described as tasting like coconut.
  • The insect’s common name is derived from the Latin word for "giant" and a race of giants in Greek mythology (the Titans).
  • The larvae of the related giant Fijian longhorn beetle, oryavato, have religious significance for some tribes in Fiji. Speaking the word yavato or destroying the larva is an insult to these tribes.

Click to enlarge an image
State Insect
Close-up of Giant Longhorn Beetle (Photo by Niklas Jonsson)
State Insect
Giant Longhorn Beetle

Species:T. giganteus
Author: World Trade Press

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