TODAY COSTA RICA – Before any of you go slamming Costa Rica, Herculito, Herculito, the name given to the rhinoceros beetle about 12 centimeters long, disappeared sometime after it got to Canada.
Tommy St-Laurent told the CBC news that his friend Gabriela in Costa Rica had sent him the beetle. But when the package arrived Thursday, something was amiss. It appeared to have been opened and Herculito was nowhere to be found.
“When you are an entomologist, the best that we can give to you is to have a really big [bug] species,” said St-Laurent, who studies insects and runs the Labyrinthe des insectes in Amos, Que., about 600 kilometers northwest of Montreal.
St Laurent is desperate to find the missing beetle he says needs special care, is rare and hard to spot in the tropical forests that make up its natural habitat.
The food St-Laurent’s friend had sent with the beetle was gone, too.
“They’re really scary, but they’re innocent,” St-Laurent told CBC News. “When people see them, it’s a special experience and they want to see more.”
He says it’s one of the biggest beetles in the world and one of the strongest animals out there. Also called a Hercules beetle, it’s worth between CA$300 and CA$400.
But it’s not about the money, he insisted. If the beetle isn’t in a proper environment and isn’t given the right food, it will die, he says. The Labyrinthe des insectes is asking whoever took it to bring it back and it won’t pursue legal action.
“We have a legal permit to do this and a lot of people want to see this species,” St-Laurent said. “It’s very sad for our visitors because they won’t see them because someone with bad intentions took [it].”
St-Laurent says he’s reached out to Canada Post, which took over the package’s handling from the Costa Rican delivery company it was shipped with.
The Canadian Postal Service told him it’s looking into his case.
In a statement to Radio-Canada, a spokesperson for the postal service said it doesn’t open any mail, but that packages coming from outside the country first go through other services, such as customs.
A (renewable) license is required to import live bugs and some plants, and to get one, you have to prove you have the proper infrastructure to accommodate them, which St-Laurent says he has.
St-Laurent has more than 100 species of live insects at the Labyrinthe, including spiders, scorpions, butterflies and moths.
Most of them live separately in vivariums, while about 2,000 more are what he calls “naturalized,” preserved dead insects for show. They come from all around the world, he says.
His goal is to educate people about insects and change negative perceptions of them.
“This is my life, I live for them.”