A few Stag Beetle facts you might not know...
- The Stag Beetle is Britain's largest native ground-dwelling beetle. Adult females can be up to 5cm long and some males may reach 7cm - that's bigger than a fun-sized choccie bar.
- Believe it or not Stag Beetles can fly. Males will fly out to look for a mate at dusk on humid, thundery evenings between May and August.
- Female Stag Beetles can also fly but rarely do so. Instead they release pheromones (a special set of chemicals, a little like a sexy perfume) to attract males to them.
- Stag Beetle larvae are really good for your garden. They eat loads of rotting wood, returning important minerals to the soil, but don't eat living plants or shrubs.
- Male Stag Beetles have large mandibles (jaws) that look a bit like the antlers of a deer, hence its name. Females don't have such 'big mouths' but their jaws are actually much stronger.
- Male Stag Beetles use their antlers to wrestle other males during the mating season. They try to grab each other and the winner throws the loser to the ground.
- Stag Beetles were also called billywitches, oak-ox, thunder-beetle and horse pincher - you can imagine what sort of stories went along with those names!
- Classical Greek myth claimed that a famous musician named Cerambus, who played the lyre (a kind of U-shaped harp that looked a little like a Stag Beetle's antlers), was rude to some nymphs and they turned him into a Stag Beetle as punishment.
- According to British folklore, Stag Beetles summoned thunder and lightning storms, which scared the wits out of medieval peasants who also believed that they flew around with hot coals in their jaws setting fire to buildings.
- In Germany the Stag Beetle was associated with Thor, God of Thunder and there was a myth that if you placed a stag beetle on your head, it would protect you from being struck by lightening... do not try this at home... or anywhere else...
- Most Stag Beetles live for only a few weeks after emerging as an adult, with many dying during the winter. A few can survive if they find somewhere nice and warm to live, like a compost heap.
- Stag Beetles have a long life cycle, lasting up to seven years from egg to adult. You can compare this to the maximum lifespan of other living things below (though not all of them live in Richmond Park):
|Worker Ant||1/2 year|
|Worker Bee||1 year|
|Stag Beetle||7 years|
|Galapagos Tortoise||193 years|
|Oak Tree||1000+ years|