Rearing Moneilema armata

Moneilema armata (Cactus beetle) is one of the stranger looking beetles and resembles somewhat a grasshopper. The Cactus beetle can reach up to 50mm and live as an adult close to a year. Unfortunately the only food these animals will eat is, of course, cactus.

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Food: Moneilema armata adults and larvae both eat cactus plants. Their preferred foods are the prickly pear and the cholla cactuses. The adults eat the Cactus from the outside of the cactus "pads" while the larvae feed from the inside by coming in through the roots.

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Life cycle: Moneilema females lay numerous large eggs (5mm) which are cemented inside a layer of surrounding sand. Eggs will hatch in a week when watered but may take much longer if kept dry. Larvae make extremely thick pupal cells in the soil using dirt and secretions and cannot leave them until becoming adults and chewing their way out. Larvae should be fed live cactus and will become adults in about 12 months.

Difficulties: The cactus beetle is a tough creature and egg laying and hatch rate are very good. Most larvae, however, are not to bright and cannot find the cactus on top of the soil easily. There is a big die-off for this reason but having established cactus with many roots might remedy this problem.

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