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Rash caused by Oryctes nasicornis

  • Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda - Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico and Università degli Studi di Milano


We report a case of rash caused by crushing of a male of Oryctes nasicornis (Linnaeus 1758) (Coleoptera, “http:// it. wikipedia. org/ wiki/ Scarabaeidae” \o “Scarabaeidae” Scarabaeidae), popularly known as “European rhinoceros beetle”, on the skin of an Italian tourist who developed the reaction during a trip to Turkey. The rash appeared one hour after the crushing of the insect on the skin. The patient was observed one day later, when she returned to Italy. To our knowledge, no similar cases have been reported in the literature.
Brief Communication
Rash caused by Oryctes nasicornis
Stefano Veraldi, MD*, Daniele Fanoni, MSc, and Gianluca Nazzaro, MD
Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Universita` degli Studi di Milano, I.R.C.C.S. Foundation, Ca` Granda
Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy
*To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email:
Accepted 23 November 2015
We report a case of rash caused by crushing of a male of Oryctes nasicornis (Linnaeus 1758) (Coleoptera, “http://it.” \o “Scarabaeidae” Scarabaeidae), popularly known as “European rhinoceros
beetle”, on the skin of an Italian tourist who developed the reaction during a trip to Turkey. The rash appeared one
hour after the crushing of the insect on the skin. The patient was observed one day later, when she returned to Italy.
To our knowledge, no similar cases have been reported in the literature.
Key words: Oryctes nasicornis; European rhinoceros beetle; skin rash; contact dermatitis; contact urticaria.
We report a case of rash caused by crushing of a male of
Oryctes nasicornis (Linnaeus 1758) (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae),
popularly known as ‘European rhinoceros beetle’, on the skin of
an Italian tourist who developed the reaction during a trip to
Turkey. The rash appeared 1 h after the crushing of the insect
on the skin. The patient was observed 1 day later, when she re-
turned to Italy. To our knowledge, no similar cases have been
reported in the literature.
Oryctes nasicornis (Linnaeus 1758), popularly known as
‘European rhinoceros beetle’ belongs to the order Coleoptera, su-
perfamily Scarabaeoidea, family Scarabaeidae and subfamily
Dynastinae. Over 300 species of rhinoceros beetle are known.
European rhinoceros beetle is widespread worldwide, in particular
the Mediterranean basin, Middle East and North Africa. We de-
scribe a case of rash caused by crushing on the skin of a male of
O. nasicornis.
Case Report
A 47-year-old Italian woman was admitted to our Dermatology
Unit due to a rash located at the right arm. The patient stated
that she was in good general health and that she was not in ther-
apy with systemic drugs. She also declared that she had just re-
turned from a trip to Turkey, where the rash had appeared.
Furthermore, the patient stated that the rash was caused by a
beetle that was accidentally crushed on the skin. The rash ap-
peared 1 h after the crushing of the insect on the skin. The pa-
tient was observed 1 day later, when she returned to Milan. She
brought to Milan two beetles that she collected on her bed.
They were classified as males of O. nasicornis (Figure 1).
Dermatological examination revealed an erythematous-
infiltrated, roundish, red in colour, 11 cm in diameter, area
(Figure 2: the latter was taken by one of us (S.V.), when we ex-
amined the patient the day after the crushing). The patient com-
plained of burning sensation. General physical examination
revealed anything pathological. Laboratory tests were within
normal ranges or negative. A diagnosis of contact dermatitis vs
contact urticaria was made.
The patient was treated with hydrocortisone butyrate cream
(two applications/day for 5 days). Complete remission was ob-
served after 3 days from the beginning of the treatment.
Oryctes nasicornis reaches a length of 4 cm. It is characterized
by a garish sexual dimorphism: males have a long curved horn
on the head, while females have no horns. The horn is used for
fighting other males during the mating season and also for dig-
Elytra are reddish-brown; the head and pronotum are
slightly darker. The lower surface of the body and the legs are
covered by long red-brown hair. The body is covered by a thick
exoskeleton. A pair of thick wings allows rhinoceros beetle to
fly, although not very efficiently, because of its large size.
Rhinoceros beetle lives in damp and shady soil. It starts its
activity after the sundown and continues until the sunrise; how-
ever, it is attracted by artificial light.
When it is disturbed, it re-
leases loud and hissing squeaks: the latter are produced by
rubbing the abdomen on the wings.
CInternational Society of Travel Medicine, 2016. All rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press.
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Journal of Travel Medicine, 2016, 1–2
doi: 10.1093/jtm/tav025
Brief Communication
The females lay a total of 50 eggs. The larvae hatch from eggs
and later develop into pupae before they reach the adult status.
The adult of O. nasicornis, after three larval stages of 2–4-year
duration, usually emerges in late May–early June, living 3 to 4
In captivity, with a temperature of 25C, the larval
stage lasts 10–12 months. The larvae grow in decaying plants
(oaks, willows), feeding on rotten wood. They can reach a length
of 6–10 cm. Adult of O. nasicornis does not feed: it consumes the
reserves accumulated during the larval stages. The size of the
adult as well as the horn is a good indicator of nutrition.
The mammoth wasp [Scolia sp. (Hymenoptera:Scoliidae), in
particular Megascolia maculata] is a parasite of rhinoceros beetle
larvae. Female wasps lay the eggs inside the beetle larvae; when
the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae will feed on the beetle larvae.
Some species of rhinoceros beetle, such as Oryctes agamem-
non, are pests of date palms. In fact, larvae of this species invade
the respiratory roots at the level of the soil and trunk barks.
Coconut and oil palm crops can also be damaged. Several coun-
tries, including Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and
Saudi Arabia, are involved.
The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae is a proven biopesticide
for beetle infestation in crops.
In some Asian regions, such as Thailand, male beetles are
used for gambling fights because they naturally have the ten-
dency to fight each other for the attention of females.
Despite a careful review of the literature, we were not able to
find cases of rash caused by O. nasicornis.Itispossiblethat,in
our patient, the rash was caused by the contact with the horn
of the beetle as well as by the contact of some irritant substances
released by the insect when scratched on the skin. We have no
data to support, in this patient, the diagnosis of rash caused by
other arthropods (Paederus sp., hymenoptera, Tab anus sp., centi-
pedes, ...), although it is well known that they can cause similar
inflammatory reactions.Other possible diagnoses (erysipelas,
fixed drug eruption) were also excluded.
Three families belonging to the order Coleoptera can cause a
skin rash. Meloidae and Oedemeridae families are responsible
for a distinctive vesiculobullous eruption (‘blister beetle derma-
tosis’) when the beetle is accidentally crushed on the skin. The
compound contained in the body fluids of these beetles is can-
The third family, Staphylinidae, includes species of
the genus Paederus. In particular, Paederus fuscipes, releases
pederin, always when the insect is crushed on the skin.
After a
few hours to 2 days, a rash occurs on the areas (usually the face,
the neck and the forearms) that correspond in morphology and
size to the area on which the beetle has been crushed and can-
tharidin or pederin has been released. The eruption is initially
erythematous–oedematous. Subsequently, vesicular and bullous
lesions can appear. Later, crusts and scaling develop: these even-
tually fall off, leaving a hyperpigmentation that can persist for
some weeks. The formation of a scar is rare: it is usually the fi-
nal clinical result of a deep tissue damage or a bacterial superin-
fection. These manifestations are accompanied by burning
sensation, stinging and pain or, more rarely, by pruritus. The
whole process heals spontaneously within 1–3 weeks.
In conclusion, we described a case of rash likely caused by
O. nasicornis.
Conflict of interests: None declared.
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Figure 1. Male of O. nasicornis (Linnaeus 1758) (Coleoptera,
Scarabaeidae), popularly known as ‘European rhinoceros beetle’
Figure 2. Rash located on the right arm
2Veraldi et al.
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Blister beetle dermatosis is a distinctive vesiculobullous eruption that occurs after contact with three major groups of beetles (Order: Coleoptera). It is caused by a vesicant chemical contained in the body fluids of the beetles. The smallest and least known family is the Oedemeridae. Although there are few references in the medical literature, blister beetle dermatosis caused by oedemerids may be more common and widespread than currently recognized. The best known family is the Meloidae with numerous species worldwide causing blistering. The vesicant chemical in both Oedemeridae and Meloidae is cantharidin. The third group of blister beetles includes species of the genus Paederus (Family: Staphylinidae). The clinicopathologic picture differs because this genus contains a different vesicant agent, pederin. The clinicopathologic features of oedemerid blister beetle dermatosis are described. The world medical and relevant entomologic literature is reviewed.
Paederus fuscipes dermatitis: a report of nine cases observed in Italy and review of the literature
  • S Veraldi
  • E Chiaratti
  • A Nazzaro
  • G Gianotti
  • R Sü Ss
Veraldi S, uka E, Chiaratti A, Nazzaro G, Gianotti R, Sü ss L. Paederus fuscipes dermatitis: a report of nine cases observed in Italy and review of the literature. Eur J Dermatol 2013; 23: 387–91.