Have you been lucky enough to see one of these magnificent beetles? Stuart Hine, Manager of the Natural History Museum’s Identification and Advisory Service, explains why seeing stag beetles is such a treat.
Watch the video to discover what to look out for, and when and where you are most likely to find them.
Famed for their impressive ‘antlers’, stag beetles (Lucanus cervus) are the largest beetle in the UK. The males can grow to about 7.5cm long and their broad head bears a pair of disproportionately large branched jaws. But despite their intimidating appearance they are harmless.
Female stag beetles are very similar, though smaller as they have more simple jaws.
Both sexes have reddish-brown wing cases and a black body.
Stag beetle populations have suffered a rapid and significant decline in the past 40 years. They have been given protected status in many European countries, including the UK, where they are mainly found in the southeast.
Although their natural habitat is woodland, stag beetles can also be found in urban areas, particularly in parks and gardens where there is a lot of dead wood. London supports a nationally significant population.
Stag beetles need dead and decaying wood for their larvae to feed on, so leave an area of your garden undisturbed with a small pile of logs, or re-bury an old tree stump in a quiet corner. The wood they feed on needs to be quite damp and rotten, and wood that is half-buried is preferred.
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species keeps a national database of stag beetle records. You can add your own sightings via their Great Stag Hunt website.