Saturday, 21 June 2014

Greater Stag Beetle !!!

You cannot help but admire this spectacular looking Beetle, known as the Stag Beetle because its mandibles resemble the antlers of a Stag,  and as ferocious as it looks, it is quite harmless.

Also known as the "Thunder beetle," "Oak Ox," and "Horse Pincher" this protected species is one of our largest terrestrial beetles, found mainly in the south of England, its spends most of its seven year life cycle as a large white grub, living underground  chewing its way through dead wood . As it nears the end of its life cycle, it pupates in the autumn and metamorphosis as the adult beetle, the following summer.

The last few weeks of its life are spent in a desperate struggle to find a female and to mate. To this end, usually on a hot, humid thundery evening, the males take to the air in their search for a female.

 The female releases a pheromone perfume to attract the males, and this is where the large mandibles come into play, its possible that the females perfume attracts more than one male, so they engage in a form of wrestling match, trying to flip their opponent over on to its back, the winner mates with the female who then searches for a suitable habitat to lay her eggs, and the cycle begins again.

The adults do not usually survive the winter months.

This adult Male, gate crashed a garden party, where it was not particularly welcome, so a big thank you to Lorraine for giving me a chance to take a close look at this magnificent beast.

And a happy ending, The Stag Beetle spent the day on  the log pile at the bottom of the garden, taking wing that evening to continue his search for that elusive female.

The female Stag Beetle below, turned up in my garden last year, as you can see smaller mandibles, which can give you a nip.

How can we help these magnificent Beetles, check out the diagram below, the larvae only eat dead wood and cause no harm to living wood, so make a log pile, and provide some much needed deadwood habitat.

Give nature a home !

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