It crawled from the south…

They are one of Britain’s largest beetles – stag beetles can look alarming but they are harmless. The males’ massive mandibles look like antlers, hence the name. Our Environment and Sustainability Manager, Maxwell Evans, spotted this adult male in the grounds here at Kew.

Male adult stag beetle

Male adult stag beetle at The National Archives

Stag beetles have a long life-cycle, for an insect. The female lays her eggs in rotting wood. The larvae feast on this for the next three years or more and then they retreat into cocoons during winter and spring. When they emerge as adults the male spends summer evenings flying around looking for a mate. Most stag beetles die during the following winter.

Loss of habitat and insect-crushing traffic have endangered the stag beetle. Kew Gardens gave us a large number of logs from different tree species and Derek, our groundsman, built loggeries.

In West London we have a stag beetle population that we need to sustain and we hope that this will provide habitat to encourage other species too.

You can find out more about stag beetles from The Woodland Trust (PDF)and The People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

If you want to do something to help, you can rebury larvae in a shaded spot if you dig up any accidently. And if you spot adults – please leave them alone and admire them from afar!

4 comments

  1. Julia says:

    Good to know you have stags at Kew – I’ll keep my eyes open. I’ve only ever seen a couple – and agree, they do look fierce. This was my latest encounter http://www.flickr.com/photos/81269484@N00/5759710202/in/photolist-9LY2bj

    1. Ruth Crumey says:

      Your pic shows off the ‘antlers’ nicely – thanks for sharing!

  2. Andrew Allsop says:

    I wasa born and brought up not far from Kew in Whitton, and often used to see these beetles in Whitton Woods as well as occasionally in our garden, this was in the 1950’s, (I was born 1946). Amongst us kids there was a belief that if you took the ‘horns’ as we called them to the police they would give you 6d. I never tested the theory though!

  3. Ruth Crumey says:

    Haven’t heard of that before…however you can report sightings using the online form at http://www.stagbeetles.co.uk/reportasighting.htm (they definitely won’t offer you 6d!).

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