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African Goliath Beetle Life Cycle: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

African goliath beetles are some of the biggest beetles found on Earth. This lesson will teach you about the different stages of their life cycle and how big these huge insects eventually become.

What Is an African Goliath Beetle?

When you think of beetles, you probably picture the kinds that aren't very big and live in your back yard or the park, like lady bugs, fireflies and June bugs. But imagine stretching your hand out flat and holding a beetle that's at least as big as your open palm! These beetles really exist. They're found in African rainforests and are called African goliath beetles.

African goliath beetle
African goliath beetle

Although they're really big as adults and can grow to be over 4 inches long, they don't start out that way. Just like you, African goliath beetles have a life cycle, which refers to the changes they go through from birth to adulthood. During their life cycle, they undergo four different stages of growth and change, which is called complete metamorphosis. These stages are eggs, larvae, pupae and adult. It takes about one year for an African goliath beetle to go through these stages, which is about how long they live.

African Goliath Beetle Eggs

When it's time for a mother African goliath beetle to lay her eggs, she digs a hole in the rich dirt of the rainforest. But unlike your parents, she doesn't stick around to take care of them.

It can take the eggs up to two weeks to hatch underground. At this point, wiggly larvae start to appear.

African Goliath Beetle Larvae

African goliath beetle larvae (pronounced lar-VEE) look like fat, squishy worms with no eyes. But they don't need to see at this point because they will live underground in the dark for several months. The larvae eat and grow, getting bigger and bigger.

Example of a beetle larva
Example of a beetle larva

They are at their heaviest during this stage and can weigh about one quarter of a pound, which is around the same as twenty quarters! And African goliath beetle larvae can grow to be around five inches long, too - that's a little longer than a soda can.

African Goliath Beetle Pupae

After the larvae have finished growing, they dive deeper underground and use the soil and their spit to make a thin case, like a butterfly makes a cocoon. They become pupae (pronounced PEW-pee) and will rest inside their case for several months as their bodies change and grow long legs, wings and a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton.

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