Big, Bold and Beleagured

Apr 1, 2009

They’re big, bold and beleaguered.

And now, they’re big, bold and finely detailed. 

Western Hercules beetles became a part of the Bohart Museum of Entomology’s educational and outreach program this month through a T-shirt design that’s drawing raves. 

Courtney Lambert, an undergraduate student in entomology at the University of California, Davis who plans a career as a scientific illustrator, drew the Western Hercules beetles after expressing an interest in them during a recent entomology class. 

Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum, taught the class and Fran Keller, a doctoral candidate in entomology, served as a teaching assistant.

“Courtney is an incredible artist,” said Fran Keller, who designed the shirt, along with other shirts and posters available at the Bohart. 

One of the largest beetles in the United States, the Western Hercules beetle (Dynastes granti) can measure 3.5 inches long. It is commonly found in Arizona. The beetle is nicknamed “rhinoceros beetle” in reference to the male’s long, fierce-looking thoracic horns. The female of the species has no horns. 

Lambert’s illustration shows the male and female on a limb. 

Keller remembers collecting the beetles in Arizona as an undergraduate. She received a permit from the Arizona Game and Fish Department to do so. “These scarab beetles are truly magnificent,” she said. “They emerge after the monsoon rains and they flock by the hundreds on the streets. They are attracted to lights of businesses.” 

Business owners spray them with pesticides at night and hose the dead insects into the sewers, she said.  “They are pests for just a brief time.” 

“And unfortunately, they are also poached, and illegal collecting has made this and other monsoon emerging beetles, Chrysina sp. for example,  rarer every season.  It is important for collectors to know the status of an insect before they collect it, and to make sure they have valid collecting permits issued by the state they’re collecting in.  Hopefully, we can educate with this beetle T-shirt."

American physician-entomologist George Henry Horn (1840) 1897) first described the species in 1870. It has a  blue and gray body with spots on the hardened forewings.  It’s also nicknamed Grant’s Hercules Beetle, honoring Ullysses S. Grant (1822-1885), the American Civil War general who went on to become the 18th president of the United States. 

Funds generated from these beetle T-shirts will help provide continuing undergraduate support and training at the Bohart Museum. 

The shirts are available in olive and brown with natural ink; black with white ink, and natural color with black ink. A coupon on the Bohart Web site offers 20 percent off with orders over $15 until April 15 

Founded in 1946, the Bohart Museum is located at 1124 Academic Surge, UC Davis campus,  and houses more than seven million insect specimens, making it the seventh largest insect museum in North America. The museum is dedicated to teaching, research and service. More information is available from the Bohart Web site, or by telephoning (530) 752-0493 or emailing Keller at or senior museum scientist Steve Heydon at  

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

WESTERN HERCULES BEETLES--This is the original drawing by UC Davis undergraduate student Courtney Lambert that graces a Bohart Museum of Entomology T-shirt. The T-shirt is part of the Bohart Museum's educational and outreach program. Proceeds are used to provide continuing undergraduate support and training at the Bohart.

Western Hercules Beetles