Stag beetles are a family of beetles known for their antler-like mandibles. Their common name refers to the horns of male deer, to which their mouthparts bear a close resemblance. There are around 1200 species of beetles in this family.
French zoologist Pierre André Latreille first described this family in 1804.
This family is further categorized into four subfamilies. Each subfamily has several tribes that contain assorted genera.
Size: 2 in (5 cm), though some are as long as 4.5 in (12 cm)
Color: Most beetles are black or brown.
Other Characteristic Features: A physical characteristic of these beetles that immediately catches one’s eye is a large pair of mandibles. The male beetle has larger ones used for fighting other males over food and mates. The females’ mandibles are smaller but more powerful than the males.
Due to the large size of the mandibles, which exceeds the entire body length of some species, the beetles will usually get about by flying.
The larvae are cream-colored, with a brown head. Females can be distinguished from males by the presence of the ovaries visible through their skin.
When mature, the larvae undergo pupation inside a cell underground made of loose soil. The pupa slowly develops an orange tone as it begins to grow antlers, legs, and other body parts.
After mating, female stag beetles will lay an average of 24 eggs close to rotting or decaying wood.
|Distribution||Most of Europe, particularly south England|
|Habitat||Woodlands, forests, gardens|
|Predators||Bats, some birds, rats and similar rodents|
|Seasons active||May to August|
|Host Plants||Primarily oak, but also beech, elm, hornbeam, and different types of fruit trees|
|Diet of adults||Tree sap and nectar|
Despite their large pincers, the adults do not do a lot of damage to the wood of living trees and are not considered dangerous. The larva feeds on mostly dead and decaying wood, so the extent of the harm caused by them is minimal.
They have not been known to bite humans.