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Kitten Introduces Tulsa Woman To Giant Beetle In Backyard

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Photo of the Hercules beetle Taylor Hull found in her backyard in Brookside. Photo of the Hercules beetle Taylor Hull found in her backyard in Brookside.
Photo of Jethro playing with the Hercules beetle. Photo of Jethro playing with the Hercules beetle.
Photo of a male Hercules beetle, provided by Dr. Rick Grantham. Photo of a male Hercules beetle, provided by Dr. Rick Grantham.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Taylor Hull and her cat had a close encounter with one of Oklahoma's more mysterious residents.

Hull had gone out to water her backyard in Brookside Monday morning when she saw her kitten, Jethro, playing with something which she thought was a green ball.

When she got closer she saw it wasn't a toy, it was alive.

"I realized it was the biggest bug I'd ever seen, even in a zoo or museum! Thank goodness 'she' was pretty and didn't move much because I would have been horrified otherwise," she said.

Jethro had found an eastern Hercules beetle that was more than two inches long.

Hull knew she had a great story to tell, but also knew she needed evidence because her boyfriend wouldn't believe her. She quickly improvised a method for capturing it.

"I used a fish bowl and a broom to guide her into it. After I proved to my boyfriend that gardening in Oklahoma can at times be compared to a safari, we went out to a mossy patch for a photo shoot. As beautiful as she was (and I'm not into bugs), I wasn't comfortable placing my hand TOO close to her, so I used a quarter for comparison. She was very patient with my kitten Jethro and me and posed regally for her portraits," she wrote in an email to News On 6.

She posted the photos on the News On 6 share page by sending them to pics@newson6.net

Dr. Rick Grantham, the director of Oklahoma State University's Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostic Lab, says Hercules beetles are best described as uncommon in Oklahoma, but only because people have to go looking for them to see one.

"When I go to the state fair to judge the insect collections every insect collection has one," he said. The Latin name is Dynastes tityus.

He says the larvae is a white grub, like other beetles, which eats rotten wood, but you'll know it's a Hercules beetle grub because it's huge, as big as your thumb. 

The adults are harmless, even though they look fearsome. They can fly and are attracted to light. "I found one on a car lot in the back of a pickup," Dr. Grantham said.

Dr. Grantham said the size of the beetle usually provokes the same response from people who find one: "Gee whiz, that's prehistoric!" 

If you do find one, Dr. Grantham said, if you handle it enough the oils from your hand will turn its shell black.

Hull did some research online and discovered that this one is a female because the males have huge horns. She said her boyfriend wanted to sell the beetle on eBay because Hull discovered they fetch as much as $55 a piece. Hull said that's out of the question.

"I let her go with assurance that she was quite welcome in the yard, but with due respect... not in the house! I don't think she was listening."

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