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Journal of a Goliathus Breeder – Part 2 of 3 – Substrate and Egg Laying
I keep my Goliathus in trios – one male to two females – in clear plastic bins (the ones used to store clothes). This allows the male to successfully mate and allow the females to oviposit without feeling too overcrowded. Although a freshly active female can mate as soon as she is capable of feeding, she will not lay eggs for another month or two. And even once eggs are found, I have noticed that the first batch of eggs is often not viable. A female Goliathus may deposit between 30-50 eggs in her lifetime. Once the breeder is certain that the female is laying fertilized eggs, the male can be removed. From my experience, once the female has been fertilized, the presence of the male is no longer required. The frequent advances by the male can be a distraction, especially since she cannot flee from her mate as would be the case in nature. My Goliathus are kept in clear plastic bins with their lids cut out in the shape of a window. Window screen is later installed to allow air circulation and to allow light to enter. However, any old fish tank can do the job. Goliathus can often be observed amongst tree branches in nature so a terrarium installed vertically as to allow tree branches is recommended. The higher branches will allow the beetles to climb and increase the surface space available in the tank. As with other beetles, medium size branches should be placed on the substrate floor. This will allow any flipped over beetles to grab onto something in order to flip back right side up.
The substrate used in the breeding tank can be identical to the one used for other Cetonidae species. The substrate depth necessary for proper egg laying is 20-30 cm. It is very important that the last 10 cm should be compacted into a very hard layer. This is the layer where the female will lay most of her eggs. Although not necessary, a log buried at the bottom seems to entice the female to lay her eggs near it. This may be a natural behavior to lay her eggs near tree roots in the wild. Such location near a tree may be richest in terms of the higher quality compost (which the younger larvae require) and a higher concentration of other invertebrates found (which the older larvae prey upon).
The Goliathus egg laying process show similarity to Dynastidae species than other Cetonidae. The female will place her eggs in individual nodules made from the substrate which is very similar to how Dynastes Hercules females prepare their eggs. Flower beetles usually lay their eggs which are “free floating” in the substrate as long as the substrate is of proper condition. In contrast to Dynastidae eggs, which are very resistant to shocks (keeping its viability even after being dropped and bounced around on the floor), Goliathus eggs are extremely fragile. Even when carefully manipulated, the eggs can break without warning. A visual sign that oviposition has started, is the presence of vertical tunnels on the surface dug by the females. They will disappear underground for several days and reemergence from the substrate for feeding. Egg incubation time varies between 2-3 weeks. The egg will increase in size during that period. I recommend you collect eggs once a month in order to avoid any cannibalistic behavior. More frequent searches will increase your risk to break freshly laid eggs. The eggs can be kept in empty film rolls or – even better – transparent empty pill containers that can be purchased in drug stores. The second method allows you to view the development of the egg.
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