Saturday, 9 November 2013

Jelly for the tropical beetles at home (includes recipe)

It is a massively disputable issue what is the best food for exotic beetles. During my beetle breeding experience I found that beetles are interested in some food more than others.  Sweet, well-ripened fruits could serve as a healthy meal for some beetles. However, knowing what kind of food is the best for your beetles, could be important for maintaining their activity and for a prolonging the life of imagos.  Some cetoniidae, such as large tropical mecynhorynha will live well on ripe banana, other, such as stag beetles will prefer more watery food.  A commercially available jelly for beetles could be a good option at some point of your beetle breeding experience, however, if you have massive numbers of active adult imagos, it could be quite expensive to support  all of them using such food.  Using ripe fruit all the time is also not a great option; firstly they go off  instantly, and secondly you must have them "in stock" all the time.  Plus they may attract a lots of fruit flies, particularly in the summertime. I found it most convenient to use home-made jelly as a fruit substitute, and supplementing beetles' diet  from time to time with fresh ripened fruits, such as sharon fruit, grape or banana. I also believe that most of the stag beetles have relatively short lives and their digestive system is not well-developed. That's why they may require mainly watery food. Currently I am using a jelly recipe which I slightly modified from recipe found somewhere on the internet. I am using agar-agar as a jelling agent, it is available on ebay; it's cheap and will cost pennies per substantial amount of jelly. Agar agar is obtained from algae, in contrast to common jelling agent gelatin that obtained from animal tissues.  I never tried to replace agar with gelatin, but I believe that it is possible.   

For my jelly  (about 350 ml in total) 
I use following ingredients:

1) 1 ripe banana, mashed

2) 40 g dark brown sugar

3) 1 teaspoon of honey

4) 1/4 teaspoon of agar-agar

for stag beetles or 1/2 teaspoon of agar for cetoniidae and dynastinae

(agar could be of different strength, so you may need to determine it's amount by yourself)

5) 250 ml of water

Combine all ingredients in one pan, bring it to boil on small gas, boil for 1 min and pour it into a jar.   It can be stored in the jar in a fridge for weeks and has beetle container life from 3 to 5 days. I spoon it into plastic milk bottle cups and feed it to my beetles like that. If you feel that the jelly consistency is a little hard for your beetles, you can put a few drops of warm sugary water on the top of the jelly, it will make it much softer and watery in minutes. 

To see more photos of beetles, please visit my flickr page at

You can also contact me via regarding any related issue and availability of beetles.


  1. Thank you so much for your receipt! I try to suggest the jelly to my beetles!!
    Tatiana Kompantseva

  2. Thank you for the recipe, sounds tasty. There could, however, be a good point in using gelatin. While agar-agar is a generally indigestible carrier (it goes through rather unchanged), gelatin is a kind of protein. If you want to provide more protein to your pets than that contained in the banana (I do not know whether you do) it could be the way. Good luck.

    1. For humans agar is indeed indigestible. I suppose digesting the cellulose wouldn't be a problem for beetles. But indeed, more proteins might be added. I suppose this would shorten the shelf live of it.

  3. Thanks,
    the recipe is pretty basic and is a base for any experiments with it:) I made my first jelly using gelatin as well, until I found cheap agar:)
    I prefer agar as it is more neutral than gelatin and is not derived from animals. If I need to increase the protein content, I simply adding plant protein powder during preparation.

  4. Why not just use welches grape jelly?
    Kevin W. Ray

    1. Commercially available jelly is usually very low in everything but sugar:) I just checked the content of the Welches grape jelly- same story:) It is very high in sugar and there is nothing else.
      When I make jelly myself, I add some banana and brown sugar which have some minerals and vitamins, I also normally squeeze an orange as well, the acids in this fruit acts as a preservatives, and it adds more important elements to it. You can also add some plant protein or other fruits.

  5. Could you use grape jelly as a base and add to it? What should I add?

    Thank you
    Kevin W. Ray

  6. How bout some peanut butter mixed in with it that’s protein. Comments?


  7. You probably can use grape jelly as a base, but I do not think that peanut butter will make a good protein supplement because it contains lots of fat. If you want to add protein, it is easier to use pure soy or whey protein...

  8. what preservatives can i put so that i can last longer than a week?

  9. Frankly speaking, not sure. I was looking for some kind of preservatives by myself. I just normally do them in small jars, pour hot jelly into these and close them tightly, so they stay sterile. I store such jars in a fridge, and they can be stored like that forever. But once you opened the jar, the jelly needs to be used within 2 weeks as it gets moldy because it is not sterile anymore. Commercially available beetle jelly definitely has some good preservatives in it...

  10. There was a Link in the Home page that said :"Here is a detailed post about the most common substrates used for beetle larvae. "
    and it links to this page as just a Jelly Recipe

    can you show the Flake soil recipe ?
    tks , best regards

    1. Hi,
      it is normally 10% of the baking flour to the 10L sawdust and some yeasts or larvae feces can be added to speed up the process. It needs to be mixed regularly especially during first 2-3 weeks. here some more details