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Stag beetle FAQs

Frequently asked questions

I’ve found an adult stag beetle – what do I do now?

Enjoy observing such a magnificent beetle. Leave it where it is (unless it’s in immediate danger of being run over or trodden on) and then record your sighting. If you do have to move a stag beetle for its own safety, then please move it as short a distance as possible (into a nearby hedge or plant for example).

What do I do if I dig up a stag beetle larva?

Larvae (or grubs) live underground feeding on rotting wood. If you can, 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.

How do I know if it’s a stag beetle larva?

The easiest way to tell apart beetle larvae is by where you find them. Stag beetle larvae are found in decaying wood underground, lesser stag larvae are found in decaying wood above ground, cockchafer larvae are found in soil, feeding on living roots, and rose chafers are usually found in compost heaps. Please see our larvae ID guide for photos and further details.

How can you tell the difference between male and female stag beetles?

Males have the characteristic large antlers (mandibles) which can be the same size as their body (sometimes bigger) whereas females are smaller and have smaller mandibles. For more information please see our stag beetle fact file.

I’ve found larvae in my compost heap what should I do?

Any larvae found in a compost heap will usually be rose chafers, as stag beetles tend to live underground in rotting wood. You can leave the larvae where they are as they are beneficial composters.

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

If you hold a stag beetle it is possible (though unlikely) that it will bite you. To avoid this please wear gloves if you have to handle a stag beetle or even better don’t try to hold it. They are NOT venomous and will leave you alone if you leave them alone. They will not do any damage to living plants and trees, as it is just the larvae that feed on dead wood. 

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.

There are stag beetles on an area of land I know is going to be developed – what can I do?

The stag beetle is a species of conservation concern. Its presence won’t stop a development but there must be a reasonable survey and mitigation measures put in place if development goes ahead. For more tips on opposing a development please visit ptes.org/planning-development-biodiversity

 

 

Get in touch if you have any specific questions about stag beetles by emaileing stagbeetle@ptes.org or call us on 0207 498 4533. 

Thank you for looking out for stag beetles!


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