A look at the stag beetle

A look at the stag beetle


Posted 26th May 2017


We're currently at that time of the year when we can expect to see stag beetles out and about, as they look for a mate. Courtesy of the PTES, we take a look at some of the fascinating facts about the insects

Description

An adult beetle has a head and thorax which are shiny black in colour and will have a chestnut brown wing case. Adult males are 35-75mm long and will have large, antler-like mandibles, while females will grow between 30-55mm long, and will have normal sized mandibles.

Habitat

They will often be found on woodland edges, hedgerows, in parks and gardens.

Diet

Larvae feed on decaying wood - while adults have not been seen feeding, they will take moisture from ripe fruits.

Habits 

A stag beetle has a long life-cycle, the majority of which will be spent underground during the larval stage. Following between three and seven years in the larval state, they will then build an ovoid-shaped cocoon in the soil, which will be up to 20cm below the ground. This can be as large as an orange and will take up to three weeks to be built. Within this, the larva will pupate and finally transform into an adult. Adult beetles will not normally emerge from its cocoon in the autumn, and will spend winter and spring in the soil. Adult beetles will then usually emerge from mid May onwards and many will have died by the end of August after mating. They will not survive the winter.

Breeding

Females will often be seen on the ground looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. On the other hand, males will tend to be seen flying at dusk while looking for a mate. Females will lay small, round eggs below ground near rotting wood, in particular log piles, rotting tree stumps and old fence posts.

Information courtesy of the PTES / image courtesy of Becky Hales





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