Insect magnetism: The communication circuits of Rhinoceros beetle fighting in Thailand

Stéphane Rennesson, Emmanuel Grimaud, Nicolas Césard


The Rhinoceros beetle fighting scene in northern Thailand exposes a puzzling technique of bringing together human and animal action. We intend to show through the study of this game that some cases invite us to specify our understanding of the notion of communication. What can the breeder-players share with their beetles? The answer to this question is far from being self-evident because the partners of the game do not share at all the same perceptive and cognitive abilities. Amateurs agree on the fact that the beetles cannot be really tamed, but since they are sensitive to vibration one can, however, try to enhance their fighting potentialities and to guide them by tactile means during the fight. Drawing on radical questionings of the notions of signal and noise, we shall try to determine to what extent beetle fighting can help us to reconsider the debate on the possibility of presignaletic forms of communication.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau2.2.014