Essex Biodiversity Project
Identification - the Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) is the largest land insect in the British Isles. The males can be up to 70mm long and they get their name from the male's huge jaws which are used for wrestling with other males. The head and thorax are black with chestnut brown wing cases. Females are smaller and do not posses large jaws and can be easily mistaken for lesser stag beetles. (Photo - Essex Wildlife Trust)
General ecology - Males are seen flying during the summer months while looking for mates. They breed in rotting and decaying wood and the larvae can take up to four years to mature. It is currently not known what the adult beetles eat. The species is widespread in Southern England and in Essex there are two distinct population centres in NE Essex and SW Essex. It is found in urban gardens and parklands and hedgerows and other semi - natural habitats. Although there does not appear to be any population decline they may be vulnerable to future loss of dead wood such as elm stumps, which will soon be exhausted.
Links - For further information on the stag beetle, see the People's Trust for Endangered Specieswebsite where you can help by recording your stag beetle sightings through the Great Stag Hunt, take part in one of their activities to create homes for stags or read more tips on how you can help in your garden.