Frigate Island Giant Tenebrionid Beetle

(Polposipus herculeanus)


Frigate Island Giant Tenebrionid Beetle IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

Adult beetles are 2-3 cm long, dark brown/black in colour, with long legs, and a large rounded abdomen with raised tubercles and fused elytra. There is no external sexual dimorphism.

This species has defensive glands which produce a substance secreted from the posterior of the beetle, which has a musky smell and stains the skin purple/brown but does not cause any irritation.
br> The beetles produce oblong yellow eggs measuring 1.1 x 2.2 mm.

There are seven larval instars, the largest reaching 4-5 cm, followed by a pupal stage and then emerging as an adult. Larvae have a sub cylindrical body, yellow/sandy colour. There are two large, curved up urogomphi on the posterior abdominal segment.

The Frégate beetle is arboreal and nocturnal, spending the daylight hours hidden in crevices in trees, coming and down to the ground to feed during the night. As well as clustering in crevices and under bark during the day beetles also hide in tree nodes and on the underside of horizontal branches where they meet the trunk.

Did you know?
that Frégate beetles can reach an age of more than seven years in human care? The average age appears to be 3 to 4 years.


Name (Scientific) Polposipus herculeanus
Name (English) Frigate Island Giant Tenebrionid Beetle
Name (French) Ténébrion géant de l'Ile Frégate
Name (German) Fregattinsel-Riesenschwarzkäfer
Name (Spanish) Tenebrio gigante de la Isla Frégate
Local names Creole: Bib armé
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Martin Harvey



Range Seychelles (Frégate Island)
Habitat Forest, including secondrary growth and tree plantations, scrubland.
Wild population The wildpopulation is restrcited to a small Island of only 202 ha.
Zoo population 989 specimens reported by six institutions in 2008.

In the Zoo

Frigate Island Giant Tenebrionid Beetle


How this animal should be transported

Adult Frégate beetles can be transported quite easily. The container must have air holes for ventilation and should have some material the beetles can cling to, for example egg carton. Soil is suitable only if the container will not be knocked about too much.


Eggs and larvae can be transported in a container filled to the top with the substrate they have been kept in. The animals must be kept at a warm temperature, if the journey is short; the container placed in a foam insulating box (with ventilation) will suffice. For longer journeys some form of heating will need to be provided. The container needs to be kept humid to prevent desiccation; this can be done by including a damp piece of cotton wool or damp tissue substrate. Food is not necessary if the journey is less than 24 hours. It is not recommended to transport pupae and large larvae nearing pupation, due to the risk of injury occurring at this time.

For air transport of adult individuals, Container Note 62, for caterpillars Container Note 63, of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Martin Harvey

Why do zoos keep this animal

Frégate beetles are kept for conservation reasons. The purposes od the ex situ conservation programme were defined as follows:


  • To establish a proven husbandry protocol
  • To conduct research into their life history
  • To investigate disease profiles of the species