A newly emerged adult beetle generally undergoes a dormant stage (a.k.a hibernating) where it does not feed for some time. This guide outlines how to take care of the dormant beetle based on input from several beetle-keeping veterans.
Keep the beetle in its original pupation chamber if it is still intact, until the beetle naturally breaks the chamber. If you have broken the chamber, place the beetle in a ventilated container filled with moist substrates and leave it alone. Start feeding the beetle only when it becomes active.
Why Is There A Dormant Stage in Beetle?
Beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, where there are a lot of major changes that happen within the body of the beetles. New organs are formed and old organs are destroyed during metamorphosis. Even after the adult beetles have emerged, it takes time for the newly formed structures in their body to completely develop and stabilize.
During the dormant stage, the beetles stay inactive and do not require food. It relies on the energy reserves built during the larval stage to survive. Because their reproduction system is not fully developed yet, they are not able to mate to produce viable offspring.
Do I Need to Do Anything for My Dormant Beetle?
Naturally, the adult beetle stays dormant within the pupation chamber. It is best to keep the chamber where it is without disturbing it. The pupation chamber provides enough moisture throughout the dormant stage, which at the same time protects the beetle from any disturbance, predators and parasites. You do not need to do anything extra for your dormant beetle if it is still in an intact pupation chamber
However, there are occasions where you would want to break the pupation chamber when the adult beetle is still in the dormant stage. For instance, if you are keeping multiple beetles, you may want to free up some space and substrates by transferring the dormant beetle into a smaller container.
Sometimes, you are curious and just want to make sure the beetle is alright by seeing it (because certain beetles may remain dormant in the chamber for 6 months or more). Some people break the chamber to prevent scratches on the elytra as the beetle breaks the chamber by itself. Another reason why people break the chamber is to know the exact age of the adult beetle to estimate its lifespan.
Whichever reasons it is, you need to help the beetle to survive the dormant stage once you remove it from the pupation chamber.
What Should I Do for My Dormant Beetle?
Given that you have broken the pupation chamber, you need to transfer the adult beetle into a container filled with substrates. You can use the same substrates normally used to keep your adult beetle. Make the depth of substrates 2-3 times the height of your beetle because the beetle will likely burrow into the substrates.
The housing should be covered with a lid and placed in a dark place. Make some ventilation holes on the housing and keep the substrate moist by spraying some water regularly. The substrates should be moist enough to form a shape when pressed in both hands but should not drip. The beetle will be killed if it is too dry or too wet.
Minimize any unnecessary disturbance (eg. vibration) to your beetle. Disturbance can make the beetle feel unsafe and start moving around in search for a safer place. This depletes the beetle’s energy reserves, causing it unable to survive the dormant stage. Make sure the beetle is safe from any pests such as ants, or someone which may accidentally harm it (such as a curious kid or pet).
You can maintain the temperature within the temperature range recommended for keeping that species. If you have a female beetle that emerged earlier than the male and you want to breed them, you can prolong the dormant stage by maintaining the temperature towards the lower recommended range. A temperature lower than that may cause the beetle to remain dormant too long that it dies before becoming active.
How do I Know if My Beetle Has Exited Dormant Stage
When the beetle becomes active, you should feed them as soon as possible because their energy reserve built during their larval stage is now very low. They may die if you do not feed them on time. But how do you know if the beetle is now active? I am sure you do not want to offer your beetle food every day for months just to dispose of it because the beetle is not ready to feed.
The easiest way is to lay a piece of soft paper towel onto the substrates. You can do this around the time the beetle is expected to end its dormant stage (which is species specific). The paper towel will be torn apart as the beetles actively move on the substrates after it exited the dormant stage. If you see that, you should start feeding it immediately. The beetle is ready to mate at this stage.
Note the soft paper towel method is suitable for larger beetles (>1.5″-2″). Smaller beetles may not be able to tear the paper towel by walking on it. For smaller beetles, you can level the top substrates evenly. If the beetles come out from the substrates and move above the substrates, you will see traces on the top substrates. This gives you clue that the beetle has exited the dormant stage.
If your beetle is in a pupation chamber, it is active the moment it breaks the chamber and similarly, you should start feeding it.