The uwang (in English, the Rhinoceros Beetle) is one of the few beetles called by name in the Philippines. Other beetles are called the Tagalog word for beetle, salagubang.
Although you can find various pictures online of the Rhinoceros Beetle, they can’t 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 have sharp claws and those claws can hurt you if you get pinched by them. Other than that, they’re practically harmless. They also have horns (one in the center of the head), but there is a difference in appearance depending on whether its male or female.
From what I understand, it’s the strongest insect in the world.
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 illegal aliens 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 liked to play with beetles when she was young, not because she looks like one (she doesn’t, of course).
There really isn’t any way to control these little beasties without causing environmental damage. They won’t normally go where people are 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 closed.
It’s important to have bug screens on windows and trust me, you can find houses in the Philippines with window frames only, without windows or screens in the frames. During the cool months, windows aren’t important, but bug screens are always important and not just to keep bugs like beetles out. I’m talking about mosquitoes, dragonflies and praying mantises as well, all of which have entered my house when doors or windows were opened.
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