London Wildlife Trust is asking everyone to report sightings of this globally-endangered species. The stag beetle is Britain’s largest land beetle, almost 8cm in length, and is easily recognised by the male’s distinctive antler-shaped jaws.
Although the male beetles look fiercesome they are harmless to us. They use their massive jaws to wrestle with other males when looking for a mate.
Despite stag beetles being in steep decline across Europe, London remains a hotspot and the Trust is asking the public to report their sightings, to help researchers map their whereabouts and numbers.
30 years of stag beetle sightings in London Stag beetles have been recorded in most London boroughs, but are more common in south and west London, from Bexley, Lewisham and Southwark to Wimbledon, Richmond and Uxbridge.
Three sites – Epping Forest, Richmond Park, and Wimbledon and Putney Commons – are European Special Areas for Conservation for stag beetles. Researchers still don’t know why there have been relatively fewer sightings across north and east London.
May is usually the start of the ‘stag beetle season’, which lasts until late July. The males fly clumsily with a faint clattering whirr, and are most likely to be seen on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk.
How to spot a stag beetle
- Male stag beetleStag beetles tend to be between 5cm and 8cm long;
- Male stag beetles have very large, antler-shaped jaws;
- Males are often seen flying on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk;
- Female stag beetles lack the males' antlers and are much more likely to be spotted on the ground. Their jaws are smaller than the males', but are more powerful;
- Adult stag beetles emerge from the soil beneath logs or tree stumps from mid-May til late July;
- You are most likely to find a stag beetle near or on dead wood. Stag beetles spend most of their lives as larvae (grubs) within dead wood such as tree stumps and logs, where they spend 4-7 years slowly growing in size.
To learn more about London’s stag beetles and to report your sightings visit wildlondon.org.uk/stag-beetle-survey
See also the PDF document below.
Stag beetle image by Neil Phillips