Beetles in the Philippines: Uwang and Salagubang

beetles in the Philippines

The uwang (in English, the Rhinoceros Beetle) is one of the few beetles called by name in the Philippines. Other beetles are referred to as salagubang, the generic Tagalog word for beetle.

Although you can find various pictures online of the Rhinoceros Beetle, nothing can compare to seeing one up close and personal. From experience, I can tell you that if one gets on your clothing, it's nearly impossible to get it off without killing it. The variety found in the Philippines is the Asiatic Rhinoceros Beetle.

They may seem formidable and vicious, but appearances can be deceiving. They have sharp claws, and those claws can only hurt you if you get pinched by them. Other than that, they're practically harmless. They also have horns, and there is a difference in length depending on whether it's male or female.

From what I understand, it's the strongest insect in the world. I'm not willing to test that assertion.

Beetles of All Kinds

There are beetles in the Philippines that I've never seen anywhere else in the world, and I'd be lying if I told you I could name any of them. There are also beetles in the Philippines who could be considered "undocumented immigrants" from the United States, hitching rides on cargo ships and airplanes. Of course, I'm sure they come from other places as well, like Korea, Japan and China.

Interestingly, a bilas of mine (a sister-in-law's husband) has a sister who was given the nickname of "Ubang" when she was young, which is short for salagubang. It took me a while to figure out it was because she was afraid of beetles when she was young, not because she looks like one (she doesn't, of course).

Beetle Pest Control

There really isn't any way to control these little creatures without causing environmental damage. They won't normally go where people go unless they're seeking a new food source (certain plants and trees). They usually only get into houses when people leave their doors open. The uwang is too big to fit under the bottom of most doors when the doors are properly closed.

It's important to have bug screens on window frames and trust me, you can find houses in the Philippines with window frames only, without anything in the frames. During the cool months, windows aren't that important, but bug screens are always important, and not just to keep beetles out. I'm also talking about mosquitoes, dragonflies and praying mantises, all of which have entered my house when doors or windows were open.

Years ago, one of my young nieces (a teenager today) was jumping around hysterically, crying and whining at the same time. It took a minute or more to realize which of the beetles had attached it to the backside of the t-shirt she was wearing. Removing her t-shirt from her body was far easier than removing the uwang from her t-shirt. It didn't want to let go.


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