The 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 identify
With their massive antler-like jaws and reddish-brown bodies, male Stag Beetles are unmistakeable. Females look similar to Lesser Stag Beetles, but are larger with smaller heads and brown wing cases instead of black ones.
Where to find it
Found in South East England.
When to find it
How can people help
Stag Beetle numbers have declined over recent years due to habitat loss, and this beetle is now seriously threatened. The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of animals, including the Stag Beetle, for which the availability of standing and fallen dead and decaying wood is vital. You can help too: encourage Stag Beetles and other minibeasts into your garden by providing logs, stone piles and compost heaps for them to hide, feed and breed in. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.