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.
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.
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!