Stag beetles are a group of approximately 1,200 different species of beetle. The most common type of stag beetle in Europe is Lucanus cervus, named after the Italian region of Lucania.
Female stag beetles are commonly smaller than the males and have smaller mandibles however their mandibles are much more powerful than the males’. Female stag beetles can be distinguished from the males by the presence of cream coloured ovaries that are visible through the skin.
Male stag beetles wrestle others in mating season they do this by using their jaws although, commonly, fights are over females they can also over food. Contrasty to their aggressive nature towards other male stag beetles, they are usually not aggressive towards humans.
Although being a large and spectacular insect, there is little information on the stag beetle, In 1918 the PTES (People’s Trust for Endangered Species) invited the public to observe these beetles in order to learn more about them. They found out that the beetles lay their eggs both in rotting log piles and in the roots of cotton trees, although any tree can be used the beetles were seen to prefer rotting roots of oak trees especially those growing along the river banks. Also, they were found to prefer sandy light soil providing us with an understanding why 70% of the beetles were reported to be seen in gardens. The beetles live in their totting logs or roots for up to 4 years before emerging as adults at the beginning go the flight season the following year. Contrasty to popular belief it was also found that stag beetles can survive n both the summer and winter, however, sadly, their population of the beetles have decreased over the past years resulting in it now being protected in the UK under schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981. One reason for the decrease in population is the amount go time their grub take to develop because they take so long, they are often subject to ‘Tidying up’ of woodland parks this act is thought to be the chief reason why they are slowly becoming extinct.
The stag beetle is listed as a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action plan, however, the beetles have acquired a ‘fan club’ who may contact local authorities and owners of large gardens to ‘spare that rotten tree!’