Care Guide Series 1:
Care Guide 1.7:
Mecynorrhina torquatus ugandensis
Scientific Name: Mecynorrhina torquatus ugandensis (MTU)
Common Name: Giant African Flower Beetle (commonly referred to as MTU)
Distribution: Democratic republic of Congo and Uganda
Temperature: 22 - 26 Degrees C
Humidity: Lightly mist the enclosure every other day. Dampen the surface of the substrate to increase the humidity for the adults. Don't wet it so much that it becomes soaked, as this can be detrimental to any potential eggs/larvae in the substrate.
Sexual dimorphism: Males have a singular cephalic horn which easily distinguishes them from the females, who do not posses any horn structures (See pictures below).
Diet: Adults feed on ripe or rotting fruit and jelly pots for extra protein and nutrients. Larvae can be reared on decaying leaf/wood mulch or flake soil.
Time from Egg to Adult: 15 - 18 months
Time spent in cocoon: 2 - 3 Months
The MTU is a medium to large species reaching up to 80mm and is available in a variety of different colours including green, red/brown, orange, blue/purple/black. This makes them a firm favourite amongst many hobbyists, including myself. They were one of the first species I ever raised, and I will always have room for them in my collection!
Picture 1: Female MTU
Picture 2: Male MTU
Picture 3: Male and Female MTU pair
Caring for MTU Larvae is relatively easy. Large numbers of MTU larvae can be housed together, provided that they are kept in large containers with plenty of substrate. The substrate should be changed on a regular basis (every 4-5 weeks). We house 50 x L3s in an 85L container and we replace the substrate once a month. If you keep them in a container that is too small, or fail to change the substrate regularly enough, you may find they begin to eat one another.
Larvae can be reared successfully on decayed leaf/wood mulch made up of mostly oak and beech leaves. This method can also achieve good sized adults. To achieve even larger adults, you can rear them on flake soil with additional protein (we use gamarus shrimp). It is important when collecting substrate, that you be careful not to collect any pine needles from coniferous trees, as they can be toxic to your larvae. For more info see our substrate collection guide.
When carrying out substrate changes, use this time to check on the health of all larvae. Do this by examining and by weighing them. Healthy larvae should increase in weight each time you do your checks (every 4-5 weeks). The occasional decrease in weight isn't necessarily something to worry about. However, decreasing weight can be an indicator that something is wrong, if it is happening on a regular basis. (We have a beetle health checking care guide coming soon which will cover this in more detail!).
It can also be interesting and useful for research to see how the larval weight compares to the adult size of the beetle it develops into. For an MTU, if you take the final larval weight and add 20, this should give you a rough estimate size of the adult beetle (in mm). For example a larvae weighing 50g should end up being around 70mm as an adult.
Picture 4: MTU larvae returning to soil after a substrate change
Picture 5: MTU larvae being weighed
When the larvae reach their final instar and are ready to construct their cocoons, they will turn a yellowish colour. We leave our larvae in the substrate until they construct their own cocoon, which we remove and place in a separate box. Here we can keep a closer eye on them until they hatch 2-3 months later.
It is important to bear in mind that not every single specimen will survive the delicate process of metamorphosis. To avoid any problems that may arise, we vey carefully make a small opening in the end of the cocoon. This allows us to see inside and check on the larvae/pupae developing within. If we have an inactive adult that has failed to emerge, we can help them out if required. Or if a larvae/pupae has perished inside for unknown reasons, we can dispose of them before they begin to attract unwanted pests, such as mites. If unwanted pests do occur and aren't removed they may hinder the development of healthy specimens nearby (We have a beetle health checking care guide coming soon which will cover this in more detail!).
Caring for adults is relatively simple. They require a day time temperature of around 26 degrees C. This can fluctuate a little, but temperatures of 30 degrees C and above can be fatal. Therefore, extra care must be taken in the warmer months to cool them if necessary. This can be achieved by increased misting. Though you must take care not to soak the substrate, as this can be detrimental to potential eggs/larvae in the substrate. You can also cool them by moving them to a different part of the house/room. For example, I rearrange my shelving unit so that the most temperature sensitive species are on the floor level, where it is coolest. At night the temperature can drop to as low as 18 degrees C.
Adults should be set up in an enclosure that allows for at least 6 inches of substrate. This will allow them to exhibit normal burying behaviours. However, 9-12 inches of substrate is preferred, if you wish to encourage the females to lay lots of eggs.
Lightly mist the enclosure every other day. Dampen the surface of the substrate to increase the humidity for the adults. Don't wet it so much that it becomes soaked. In hotter conditions increase spaying to once/twice a day to reduce the temperature.
Provide a mixture of sliced ripe fruit and jelly pots on the surface of the substrate. If housing just one pair, then place all the food in one area of the enclosure to encourage them to mate. When housing multiple pairs in the same enclosure we recommend spreading the food out a bit more to reduce the amount of fighting between males over the feeding stations.
Breeding is also relatively simple. So long as you have a healthy pair or more and you set up and care for them following the instructions above, they should mate and reproduce without any encouragement. Just leave them to it, replacing the food when necessary and you should find after 3-4 months, that you have lots of little larvae in the substrate. The most important thing is not to interfere and to be patient! Otherwise, you risk damaging the very delicate eggs and freshly hatched larvae. For more info see our care guide on Extra tips for breeding flower beetles.
Overall, MTU are a very rewarding species to keep. For such a large and colourful species, they are great for beginners and experienced keepers alike. Many of the practical skills you will learn by keeping this species will be fundamental to most areas of beetle keeping going forwards. As with any species there are a few hurdles that may present themselves along the way. As long as you are prepared and have done lots of research, you should be more than equipped to deal with any difficulties that may arise. This is all part of the fun of breeding beetles! Just remember, don't panic and if in doubt feel free to contact us with any queries!
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions please feel free to send us a message via our contact us page!