7 things you never knew about stag beetles

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1. They spend most of their life underground, looking like this!

Striking stag beetles start their life as a larva (or grub) and it takes several YEARS- sometimes up to seven- for them to grow and develop into the adult beetles. During this time, they live underground. You might come across larvae whilst digging in your garden. Don’t worry they are harmless so please leave them if possible. Our larval identification guide can help you to check that they are definitely stag beetle larvae and not another beetle.

2. They eat, and recycle, dead wood

The larvae feed on rotting wood, such as old tree stumps and logs, and along with fungi actually help return the nutrients back to the soil. They prefer oak but can also eat other broadleaved (not conifer) tree species. So they are helpful not harmful!

3. Adults only live for a few weeks

After spending several years underground, the adults’ only job is to find a mate and begin the next generation. So they only live for a few busy weeks over the summer and do not survive the winter. All more reason to protect them to let them fulfill their duties!

male and female stag beetles

4. Stag beetles can fly

Adult beetles have chestnut coloured wing cases. Underneath these, they have an impressive set of wings that help the males in particular to move about, albeit a little clumsily, and find a mate. They appear to hang vertically in the air when they fly and make a characteristic buzzing sound. The females don’t tend to fly very much – they are most often seen walking on the ground.


5. Adults can’t eat solid food

They rely on the fat reserves they built up as a larva. They can however use their feathery tongue to take some moisture and energy from rotting fruit and sap.

6. Stag beetles are endangered 🙁

Stag beetles are at risk from habitat loss. They are completely reliant on dead wood for most of their lives and when we tidy up our parks, gardens and woodlands we are removing this vital food source. They are now extinct in two European countries. We don’t want that to happen here in the UK so please help by making your garden or green space more stag beetle friendly.

female stag beetles

7. They have their own dedicated #StagWeekend

Stag beetle lovers of the country unite to celebrate and save threatened stag beetles each summer. This year Stag Weekend ran from 5th-7th June and thousands of people recorded sightings, built log pyramids and loads more. It’s not too late to join in- read more…!

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