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Stag Beetles

Please Look After Our Stag Beetles!

stag beetleMid May is the time of year when the spectacular Stag Beetle is emerging to find a mate!

This is our largest beetle in the UK, and gets its name because the male’s large jaws (mandibles) look just like the antlers of a stag, the females have smaller mandibles but are much stronger.

They are seriously endangered so if you see one, don’t be alarmed and definitely don’t tread on them!

As well as being the largest they are sadly one of our rarer beetles and endangered. They are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and we are very lucky that they are flourishing here in Hayes.

They may look fearsome but they are harmless and fascinating to watch. They fly from late May into early July on warm, calm evenings as the light fades, they lumber around clumsily before then taking flight to find a mate. When they fly their wings beat with a loud low-pitched thrumming sound and their flight path is slow and very erratic, like a little fighter plane!

They spend upto 7 years as larvae underground and only live until the end of August as adult beetles.

Stag Beetle Larvae

Stag Bettle larva

The stag beetle larvae are white coiled grubs that can be as big as a £2 coin. They are really good for your garden and they eat loads of rotting wood, returning important minerals to the soil – they don’t eat living plants or shrubs. If you find one put it back exactly where you found it or the next best thing is to re-bury the larva in a safe shady place in your garden with as much of the original rotting wood as possible.

I have found an adult stag beetle – what do I do now?

Adult beetles are attracted to the warm surfaces of tarmac and pavements, making them particularly vulnerable to being crushed by traffic or feet. If you find a stag beetle, leave it where it is (unless it is in immediate danger of being run over or trodden on) and enjoy observing such a magnificent beetle.

If you do have to move a stag beetle for its own safety, then move it as short a distance as possible (into a nearby hedge or plant for example). If you do have to pick it up it might be safer to wear gloves or use a leaf or a piece of paper to move it. It is possible, though unlikely, that it will bit you.

Will a stag beetle bite me? Are stag beetles dangerous?

They are NOT poisonous and will leave you alone if you leave them alone. If you do need to move a stag beetle, don’t put your finger between the ‘antlers’ it is possible (though unlikely) that it will bite you.

How can I make my garden suitable for stag beetles?

Stag beetles need decaying wood that is underneath the soil. Your garden may already be ideal for stag beetles with plenty of rotting wood (even wood chip and old fence posts can provide homes for stag beetles!) If not you could make a log pile.

For more information on ways to help Stag Beetles or to record a sighting, please visit the People’s Trust for Endangered Species website

Thank you for looking out for stag beetles!

HPS Gardening Club