Scientific name: Lucanus cervus
Famous for its fearsome jaws, the stag beetle does not have the bite to match. Look for it in woods, parks and gardens in South East England in summer. Males display their massive jaws to attract females and duel with their rivals.
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.
When to seeMay to August
AboutThe stag beetle is the UK's largest beetle and is found in South East England, particularly in South and West London. It prefers oak woodlands, but can be found in gardens, hedgerows and parks. The larvae depend on old trees and rotting wood to live in and feed on, and can take up to six years to develop before they pupate and turn into adults. The adults have a much shorter lifespan: they emerge in May with the sole purpose of mating, and die in August once the eggs have been laid in a suitable piece of decaying wood. Look for the adults on balmy summer evenings, when the males fly in search of mates. Once the male has found a mate, he displays his famously massive, antler-like jaws to her, and uses them to fight off rival males, in a similar fashion to deer.
How to identifyWith their massive antler-like jaws and reddish-brown bodies, male stag beetle are unmistakable. Females look similar to Lesser stag beetles, but are larger, with smaller heads and brown wing cases instead of black ones.
In our area
Suffolk Wildlife Trust are encouraging people to create stag beetle habitat on their land, and also record stag beetle sightings: