This month iWatch Wildlife are asking for records of the magnificent Stag Beetle (Lucans cervus)
Stag beetles live in woodland edges, hedgerows, traditional orchards, parks and gardens throughout Western Europe including Britain – but not Ireland. Although relatively widespread in southern England, there are few records from the Island in recent times and we’d love to hear from you if you spot any.
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) run an annual Stag Beetle Survey so we thought it would be a good idea to team up and help raise awareness of this here on the Isle of Wight and hopefully help by generating some records of these magnificent creatures.
Stag beetles are one of the most spectacular looking insects in Britain, named because the male’s large jaws or mandibles look just like the antlers of a stag. They are our largest beetle but are nationally scarce. One of the reasons for this is our general tendency to tidy up the green spaces around us which threaten these vunerable insects. As places for them to shelter are lost or become isolated, fewer suitable habitats for Stag beetles exist.
They spend the majority of their life underground as larvae feeding on decaying wood, only emerging as adults in mid-May to reproduce. By the end of August, most will have died – they do not survive the winter. An encounter with a stag beetle is a wonderful and unforgettable thing!
Identification: Adult males can vary in size from 35mm – 75mm long and tend to be seen flying at dusk in the summer looking for a mate. Female beetles are smaller at between 30-50mm long, with smaller mandibles. They are often seen on the ground looking for somewhere to lay their eggs http://ptes.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Beetle-ID-guide.pdf
Good to know: They are harmless to humans and do not damage living wood or timber as the larvae only feed on decaying wood. If you find an adult stag beetle, please leave it where it is, unless it is in danger of being run over or trodden on. If you have to move a beetle for its own safety, then please move it as short a distance as possible.
If you would like to report an observation please contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook @iWatchWildlife – happy beetle hunting!
Text and image by kind permission of PTES.