Hercules beetles are strange, intimidating insects. Holding a string that acts as a leash around the beetle’s top horn, Thai children send their prized pet beetles to battle. On a bored Saturday night, I documented a clash of these ferocious titans.
A massive statue of the beetle rests next to my town‘s entrance here in the mountainous region of northern Thailand. This weird bug is apparently a prominent symbol of the community. I’ve lived here for almost four months and I’ve yet to encounter one of these colossal bugs. Until now.
A young girl stares at her pet beetle. Thais have a much simpler name for this insect: guang.
Tied securely to a strip of sugar cane, her pet feasts on sweet sugar before preparing for battle.
Two Thai children prepare their beetles to duel.
Two strips of sugar cane are placed side-by-side, each with a ferocious beetle tied to it. The stage is set for these titans to clash!
This child provokes his beetle by tugging on the string. When agitated, the hercules beetle makes an eerie hissing sound to ward off foes.
The beetles knock their horns together. You can’t actually hear the faint clash, but if you were the size of an ant, I bet it would sound like two dump trucks colliding.
The epic battle continues for a few minutes as the beetles struggle to protect their sugar cane homes.
After a fierce duel, this boy’s beetle is victorious.
The hercules beetle is actually a very friendly insect that’s hardly fierce. I just tried to portray this slow-moving battle as a “clash of the titans” to make this insect appear a little more interesting. No beetles were hurt during the battle.