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How to build a log pyramid for stag beetles

Stag beetles are one of the largest insects in the UK. They are in decline across Europe but there are many simple things you can do to help.

How you can help stag beetles

Stag beetles don’t move far from where they emerge. Although males can fly up to 500m, most female stag beetles don’t travel more than 20m and return to where they emerged to lay eggs. This means populations are vulnerable to becoming isolated and if there isn’t enough dead wood nearby, dying out all together.

Private gardens are very important habitats for stag beetles. They rely on decaying wood that is in contact with the soil, both to feed on as larvae and in which to lay their eggs.

You can help by building a log pyramid in your garden to ensure that there is a good supply of suitable dead wood nearby for females to lay their eggs in.

Stag beetle facts

  • They are Britain’s largest native terrestrial beetle.
  • The larvae develop underground in rotting wood for several years.
  • The adult only lives for a few weeks in the summer with the sole purpose of finding a mate.
  • Adult beetles don’t eat but rely on the fat stores built up during their larval stage.
  • The male’s antler-like jaws are used to fight off rival males.

Make a log pyramid

  • Log pyramids can be built at any time of year.
  • Use wood from any broadleaved tree.
  • The logs should be at least the thickness of an adults arm.
  • Site the logs in partial shade if possible to prevent them drying out.
  • Partially bury the logs in the soil so that they don’t dry out.
  • Allow plants to grow over the log pyramid to retain moisture and provide shade.
log pyramid steve heywood
Your log pyramid will also benefit a range of other species including fungi, dead wood invertebrates and the animals that feed on them. It will be a great place for foraging small mammals, basking reptiles and potentially solitary bees. (Photo credit: Steve Heywood).

More tips for stag beetle friendly gardening

  • Leave tree stumps in place if possible; they can become garden features with plants growing over them.
  • Try not to use pesticides.
  • Keep a lid on your water butt as stag beetles are known to fall in and drown.
  • Avoid using polythene sheeting to control weeds. Newly emerging stag beetles can get trapped beneath it in spring and die.
  • If you find larvae in the bottom of rotten fence posts and need to move them, dig a hole elsewhere in your garden and put them in together with some of the rotting wood from the original site.
  • Cover loosely with soil.

Show us your creation!

Take a photo of your log pyramid and submit it below, or post on social media and inspire others to do the same!

log pyramid illustration

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