what is the name of this beetle
Location: Orem, Ut
July 1, 2011 10:02 pm
We found the following beetle on July 1st, in Orem UT, at a public park among the wood chips. It was 7 p.m. at night and there were several of these beetles walking around the wood chips.
Signature: Dante

Cottonwood Stag Beetle

Hi Dante,
This is a male Stag Beetle in the genus
Lucanus, but your location in Utah is a bit far west for the species we usually receive.  We did some research on BugGuide, and we believe this is a Cottonwood Stag Beetle, Lucanus mazama, and if we are correct, this represents a new species for our website.

Cottonwood Stag Beetle

Wow thanks for getting back so soon.My five year old son is an avid bug lover and he thought it was great that he found these beetles. What’s funny is he insisted that they were a type of stag beetle, but we couldn’t find them on the web. It’s interesting you say they’re a bit far west because we saw between 20-30 in the playground. He’d like to know what they eat. Thank you for your info it’s been helpful.

Hi again Dante,
We should probably clarify what we meant by our “west” comment.  Most of the North American Stag Beetle submissions we receive are from two species, the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus, and the Giant Stag Beetle, Lucanus elephus.  The furthest west we know of for those two species is Texas.  Your beetle is a different species, the Cottonwood Stag Beetle, Lucanus mazama, and BugGuide has only received submissions from Arizona and we have never received a submission of that species prior to your letter.  You can try feeding your Stag Beetles overly ripe bananas or other very ripe fruit.  Stag Beetles are believed to feed on tree sap, but there is not much available information that we are aware of regarding the feeding habits of Stag Beetles in the wild.
We are fascinated by the wood chip connection.  We just located these reports from Europe (they have their own species there), that Stag Beetles are being found in places landscaped with wood chips.  This is the best article we have read online in a very long time.

Location: Utah

28 Responses to Cottonwood Stag Beetle

  1. scrof42 says:

    We just found a large group of these in the wood chips at Bear Park in Sandy, UT. Another connection with the wood chips such as you mention above.

    • bugman says:

      This is quite interesting. It seems the use of natural wood chips for landscaping and mulch might be providing much needed habitat for Stag Beetles.

  2. peteiebug says:

    We live in Draper Utah and just found one on the side of our house on our porch at night. I have never seen one of these…except in an Indiana Jones Movie! Do they bite with those pinchers? We caught it so we could look at it and then let it go.

  3. yinyang77 says:

    I also found one of these stag beetles in my backyard this evening, about 8:00 pm, here in Salt Lake City, UT. The nearest tree about 10 feet away was a Hawthorne. The Hawthorne appears to have some 1cm or less bore holes in it, in a somewhat dead part of the tree (it’s an old tree); not sure if those were there before this season (but I think so).

    I don’t really know if the two are connected, but I can’t imagine this thing is good for the yard. The other nearest trees are an old walnut tree and old peach tree in adjacent yards. It’s now in a glass jar, doing a push up every minute or so.

    Coincidentally, like in the top photo the one I caught also only has 5 of 6 legs (back right leg missing).

    Bugges Out in SLC

    • bugman says:

      Stag Beetles do not compromise living trees. The grubs feed on rotting wood. Rotting wood needs to be broken down so that the nutrients can be returned to the soil as humus. Without insects like Stag Beetle Larva to help in the decomposition, soil quality will deteriorate. One can make that defense for Stag Beetles being good for the yard.

  4. stoked4pow says:

    We have a good population at our Fillmore, Utah home..

  5. duchesneuser says:

    We have a small farm out by the Tabby Turn in Fruitland, UT. Have not seen any adults yet but over the 24th holiday, we found numerous (like 100+) larvae in various stages of growth all through our garden. Ranged from 1/4″ to 1″ in length. This is the first time we plowed in 3 years. I was wondering if the beetle larvae stay deep in the ground. We plowed up about 2 feet deep (and I was under the impression our area only grew kids and rocks :)). Also we have had quite a bit of rain lately, would that promote their growth ? besides our watering? Now that I am finding out a bit more about them, I have a few concerns. Are they into potatoes? that is where we noticed them first. Will the larvae crawl up a plant to get to the fruit or does it, the fruit, need to be on the ground ? My husband will let them be as long as they leave our food source alone. Are they similar to an earthworm in the benefit department ? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • bugman says:

      In our opinion, the larvae you found are more likely some species of Scarab Beetle. June Beetle grubs are quite common in garden soil.

  6. SoJo-UT says:

    I just found a larger then normal beetle on my porch and started searching the net. I found this page and am blown away by what I and other people have encountered. I live on a small farm with tons of trees in South Jordan, UT. I touched the stag with a stick to see if it was aggressive, it just stayed put. He seamed quit strong and hardly moved. I let him be. I’m sure he and others live in all the downed trees on the property. Fun new information I’ve just found.

  7. Daniel says:

    We just saw hundreds of these beetles all along the Jordan River parkway in Taylorsville, Utah. I was trying to identify them because I had never seen one. All of them were in the wood chips covering the playgrounds, and the kids were playing with and ‘petting’ them.

  8. Tiffany says:

    I took my three young kids to the park here in Spanish fork, Utah. We came across 12-15 of these in the wood chips. The more we dug, the more we found. The original post by the woman who found them is similar to mine. My 5 year old is fascinated with them. Thanks for all the other people who left posts. These beetles are fascinating to me and my kids. I have photos if needed:)

  9. Jenny says:

    I just wanted to add in my bug sighting too! We’re in Lehi, Utah and came across this beetle yesterday evening at the playground in the wood chips, just as everyone is describing. I’ve never seen such a beetle and thought it could be a different type of “stink bug” until coming across this site. (Thanks!) The pincers sure are scary looking! Do they bite? I was concerned about it being on a playground…who knows how many more could be hiding. Eek.

  10. wilben says:

    I live in Anchorage, Alaska and we do not have many bugs. I killed one of these marching acroos the dining room floor last week. We do have a few Cottonwood trees in our neighborhood.

  11. AnnieBee says:

    Playing today in a park (ground covered in wood chips. Surprise, surprise) in Midvale, and there were hundreds of these all over the playground. I’ve never seen one. Brought me here. Sadly, most of them were dead, some barely alive and a few healthy robust guys. I’m now wondering if this park has been sprayed. 🙁

  12. Whit says:

    Found one of these in a park in Holladay, Utah today. My 1 year old grabbed it and he sure got a pinch. I couldn’t get it out of his hand because the pinchers were in his finger. He cried for about 30 seconds and was fine after that. Hasn’t complained since then. Are their bites harmful?

    • bugman says:

      Other than a pinch, and the possibility of drawing blood in a person with tender skin, there is no threat from the Cottonwood Stag Beetle.

  13. BD Bondy says:

    I just had one land on me a night ago. I live in Abiquiu NM., right by the Chama river and we do have a lot of cottonwood and other trees. Also, several piles of wood chips.

  14. Sherill says:

    We are in Colorado, western slope. My husband took me outside this evening to see a different type of beetle ( he knows I like bugs ;). ) so we looked the beetle up and it is a male cottonwood stag beetle. He’s a very impressive fellow ! I’ve never seen before. This was a treat! Will take some photos then let him go. Thank you.

  15. Rachel says:

    I live in Coloma Michigan and just saw my first Beetle that resembles the one above. Their looks sure are intimidating but then again most beetles are to me. I got him in a scoop and put him on the other side of the road to live. 😉

  16. TJ Moore says:

    Just found one in my home office. A rather large fellow. Body is about an inch long. I Live in Santa Fe NM. My first seeing this kind of bug. We’ve been doing construction in our rural setting. I suppose he tagged along inside on one of the dogs fur. As long as he isn’t going to hurt me or my pups I guess I’ll let him go tomorrow. He’s mine for tonight! Fascinating.

  17. Sandra Bobango says:

    I woke up yesterday to find 16 of large beetles on the patio. Some had crawled into a pot but now cannot get out. I seem to notice them after a heavy rain which we had several days before. I live in Prescott Valley AZ, When they die they go belly up. Any particular reason for this?

  18. Jacob Menke says:

    We just saw a bunch of these in the wood chips at dusk at a park in Lehi, UT. My boys are loving them.

  19. Dan Nickelson says:

    I live in Santa Fe and am finding these beetles in our back yard, which is mostly gravel. Or I should say, our dog is finding them in the evening.

  20. Melanie says:

    We are from Santa Fe, NM and we just encountered a huge amount of these stag beetles at our neighborhood playground. All living in wood chips!

  21. Deanna Decker says:

    Found a feisty 2 inch one in Mueller Park by Bountiful, Utah. I took a picture but can’t see a way to attach.

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