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Beetle-mania is latest export from Colombia

May 21, 2008 | 10:08 am

The_fifth_beetle_perhapsColombia's latest hot export isn't coffee, Shakira or infamous narcotics; it's beetles.

A 36-year-old entrepreneur is jumping on the bandwagon of exporting Colombia's richly vibrant ecology. The Times' Chris Kraul describes the efforts of German Viasus, who raises the aptly named Hercules beetles, which are popular pets in Japan:

     "Viasus seems to feel as much affection for the insects as do his Asian clients, possibly because his business, which is approved by both Colombian and Japanese governments, is so lucrative. He ships 300 giant beetles a month that retail for as much as $350 each in Tokyo pet stores.

     "Despite its natural riches, Colombia produces only about $17 million in "bio-commerce" a year, mainly in native foliage used in floral arrangements and aromatic, medicinal and cosmetic herbs, said Jose Andres Diaz, a consultant to Colombia's equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

That's Viasus above, with some of his 7-inch-long charges.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Chris Kraul / Los Angeles Times

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