Londoners urged to record rare beetle

Tuesday 31st May 2011

London Wildlife Trust is holding a city-wide survey to record sightings of the globally threatened stag beetle

We need Londoners to let us know if they see one of these magnificent beetles over the next few months to help us understand more about their distribution across London and to improve current conservation methods. Go to www.wildlondon.org.uk to find out how to identify and record a stag beetle sighting and get advice on how to build a stag beetle loggery.

The survey was launched at Crane Park Island Nature Reserve, Richmond, on Stag Beetle Sunday 29 May at 11am.

London is a ‘hotspot’ for stag beetle and is nationally significant for the population it supports; the capital’s stag beetles are vulnerable and need our help. The stag beetle has been recorded in most London boroughs, but like many Londoners is particularly loyal to certain areas and is more common in south and west London where it is found in areas like Beckenham, Dulwich, Wandsworth and Richmond. While it is rarely spotted in central London, probably because there are few appropriate habitats, researchers are puzzled as to why sightings have been so few in north-west and north-east London.

Mathew Frith Deputy CEO of London Wildlife Trust, says:

"These are magnificent and important insects, critical players in the recycling of dead wood into new soil. We urgently need an up-to-date estimate of the numbers of stag beetles in London so we can understand where they are flourishing and where they are doing less well. We’re also asking people to tell us whether they have seen species like cat, fox or magpie near the beetle. With this information, we can help improve conservation measures across London and help protect this fascinating beetle for the future."

Stag beetles are rapidly declining across Europe, mainly as a result of the destruction of dead wood, and tidying up of parks and greenspaces. The larvae live in dead wood for up to seven years while they are maturing, and may also be inadvertently destroyed in the belief that they are pests. In urban areas traffic, feet, cats and other predators also have a detrimental impact.


How to spot a stag beetle:

• You are most likely to find a stag beetle near or on dead wood
• It’s between 5cm and 8cm long
• It’s got large antler shaped jaws
• The male’s jaws are very large
• The female’s jaws are smaller but more powerful
• Adults emerge from the soil beneath logs or tree stumps from mid-May til late July
• Males emerge are seen flying on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk

We need Londoners to let us know if they see one of these magnificent beetles

How to create a log pile in your garden to help stag beetles:

• A stag beetle needs dead wood to complete its lifecycle. By creating a log pile in your garden, you are providing just the right habitat to help stag beetles. They like all sorts of wood, especially oak but also ash, elm, sycamore, lime, hornbeam, apple, cherry and even some garden trees varieties.

Large logs (10-50cm diameter) of hardwood (eg oak, beech, sycamore, ash) with bark still attached sunk c60cm into the ground, in partially shaded areas.


• Stage beetles lay eggs underground by logs or stumps of dead trees and the larva (or grub) will spend up to seven years inside slowly growing in size. The larvae don’t eat the wood of live trees and shrubs and so are not a pest. Rather, they are an important decay agent, helping to return the minerals of dead plant material to the soil.


Story by London WT
More Information

For more information contact Kate Symonds or Catherine Harris on press@wildlondon.org.uk / 07834 867 420