Western Hercules beetle (Dynastes granti)
M.L.Sipes - NPS
Insect life is abundant at Chiricahua National Monument. Often overlooked, they can be found just about everywhere in the monument - on the rocks, on the trees, in the leaf litter underfoot, as well as flying in the air. Butterflies, moths and grasshoppers are abundant during the summer and fall months, as well as numerous kinds of ants, spiders, beetles and other insect life. Because of the relatively mild climate and the summer monsoon moisture, insects thrive here, utilizing the long growing season to harvest pollen from flowering plants and feeding on green plant material. Aquatic insects are also abundant in the springs and rock pools. Insects provide food for many other animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. They are also important pollinators for most of the flowering plants. It is unknown how many different species of insects, spiders and other invertebrates occur in the Monument, but we do know that they play an important role in the ecosystem.
The insect pictured is a western Hercules beetle - one of North America's largest! They live in the leaf litter and rotting vegetation on the forest floor. The males have a large horn that protrudes forward, and is sometimes used to spar with other males as a test of strength. Female Hercules beeltles don't have a horn. Each individual has a different arrangement of spots on the back.