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.