Species: European Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

Family: Stag beetles (LUCANIDAE)

Category: Insects (Other)

Location: One Sighting

A. Insects (Other)

More extensive information on insects can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Stag beetles (LUCANIDAE)

Stag beetles form a family of some 1,200 beetles. They share the notable characteristic of males having enlarged jaws - or mandibles - with which they wrestle with each other to win or retain female mates.

In the historic Italian region of Lucania, people used stag beetles as amulets, which gave rise to the region's name being applied to the Latin stag beetle family's name - and to the European Stag Beetle itself. The cervus part of the European species' name comes from the Latin for a deer, hence the English name stag beetle.

C. European Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

The European Stag Beetle is a fine example of the family of stag beetles in that the males have huge jaws, much larger than the female's. These jaws are used to attract females and to duel with rivals. The jaws of males are not really biting jaws - although the female of the species can deliver a sharp nip.

These beetles are between 5 and 7.5 centimetres in length, and are the country's largest beetle. They are found in the south-east of England, but are scarce. In Britain, these beetles are a protected species.

Although the larvae of these beetles can take up to six years to develop, the adults live for less than a single year, emerging in May and dying in August once they have mated.

These beetles fly, buzzing forwards at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees, jaws up, tail down. It's a mesmerizing sight!

Images

European Stag Beetle

Although the larvae of these beetles can take up to six years to develop, the adults live for less than a single year, emerging in May and dying in August once they have mated.

(Photo credit: Teri Kerr.)