Celebrate creepy crawlies during National Insect Week by recording your stag beetle sightings
One week in June is dedicated to celebrating the most diverse and ecologically important group of terrestrial invertebrates that are often overlooked – insects. People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) works to conserve many UK species including the stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) and, to coincide with National Insect Week (20-26 June 2016), PTES is asking for the public to record any sightings of these beetles as part of their annual Great Stag Hunt. National Insect Week celebrates the UK’s native insects – of which there are 24,000 – including beautiful butterflies, delicate dragonflies and bumbling beetles.
Sadly, it is becoming rare to see stag beetles as population numbers are falling across Europe due to habitat loss and predation. PTES is working to help reverse the decline of this iconic insect by asking the public to take part in the Great Stag Hunt and by recording any sightings at www.ptes.org/gsh.
PTES has been running the annual Great Stag Hunt, a citizen science project whereby people record stag beetle sightings online, since 1998 and last year saw over 5,500 recorded sightings across the UK (see Appendix 1 for regional statistics). These results are important in order for PTES to build a wider picture of how stag beetles are faring across the UK.
Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at PTES says: “People often overlook insects as they aren’t as visible as other creatures and they can be feared out of unfamiliarity. National Insect Week is a fantastic way for the public to get up close with the smaller creatures on our doorsteps and to learn about their ecological importance. The public can further help conserve the declining stag beetle by taking part in PTES’ Great Stag Hunt, which, over the last 20 years has seen thousands of volunteers take part, which helps PTES’ conservation strategy.”
Stag beetles are easily recognisable due to their huge mandibles, which resemble those of a male deer’s antlers. They emerge from now until the end of the summer months, and do so in order to find a mate after up to 7 years living underground as larvae, feeding on rotten wood. These beetles live in gardens, traditional orchards, woodland and parks and are most likely to be spotted flying on warm summer evenings.
Stag beetles are prevalent across southern England and coastal areas of the south west, but are less common in northern England by comparison. PTES also want to hear from people living in areas that border the stag beetles’ known range, such as Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
To further raise the profile of beetles, PTES is working with MG Leonard, author of the best-selling children’s novel Beetle Boy. This heart-warming story follows the adventure of a young boy and his friend Baxter, who is in fact a beetle. Beetle Boy is the first part of The Beetle Trilogy, and was published in March 2016 by Chicken House. As part of this collaboration, PTES and MG Leonard have created a short film detailing PTES’ work to conserve stag beetles, which can be viewed on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1PDvzMX.
MG Leonard, author of Beetle Boy says: “There isn’t any creature as delightfully varied and beneficial as the humble beetle, and the stag beetle is the most majestic beetle we have in the UK, so it’s vital we do all we can to protect its habitat. If you see a male stag beetle in flight, you should jump for joy at your great fortune and then, please, scurry to the PTES website and record the sighting.”
National Insect Week is organised every two years by the Royal Entomological Society and other partners including PTES, and encourages people of all ages to learn about insects, why they are important, which insects are in decline and why, and what the public can do to help combat this. Throughout National Insect Week there are hundreds of informative events, talks and workshops dedicated to inspire and educate existing insect fans, as well as those who perhaps aren’t familiar with, or fond of, insects!
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Notes to Editors
Available for interview
- Laura Bower, Conservation Officer, PTES
- Jill Nelson, CEO, PTES
- PTES, a UK conservation charity created in 1977, is ensuring a future for endangered species throughout the world. We protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, and provide practical conservation support through research, grant-aid, educational programmes, wildlife surveys, publications and public events. Our current priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafers, stag beetles, traditional orchards and native woodlands.
- Visit www.ptes.org for more information, or follow PTES on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ptes) and Twitter (@PTES).
About Stag Beetles
- The stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) is the largest of Britain’s beetles. The stag beetle goes through three stages during its life cycle. During the first stage, the larva will hatch from its egg and begin to consume enough food from rotten wood to last throughout its entire life above ground. This process can take between three and seven years. The second stage sees the larva undergo pupation, where it begins to transform into a stag beetle. The stag beetle will hatch from the pupal case at around the beginning of winter, so stays underground until the end of the following spring. During the third stage of its life cycle, the stag beetle emerges around May, having three months at best to find a mate, in order to repeat the cycle. It relies on fat reserves stored as a larva but can use its furry tongue to drink juices from fallen fruit, tree sap and water.
About PTES’ Great Stag Hunt
- For several years, PTES have been collecting volunteer’s stag beetle recordsin order to build an up to date picture of where they are, and where they need help. For the last 10 years, PTES has funded research into stag beetles with Prof Alan Gange and Dr Deborah Harvey at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL). Together they have written the Biodiversity Action Plan for this threatened insect.
- To record your sighting of a stag beetle visit www.ptes.org/stagbeetles
Appendix 1: Results from the Great Stag Hunt 2015. Source: PTES.
|County||Number of stag beetles recorded in 2015|
|Isle of Wight||7|
|ty of Bristol||4|
|Vale of Glamorgan||1|