Female Stag Beetles: How To Identify Them?

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In the insect world, it is often hard to tell males and females apart. Take the stag beetle for example: how do you identify the female stag beetles? Find out by reading the article below.

Female stag beetles are smaller than their male counterparts. The stag beetle females mate with the male to lay as many as 20 eggs at a time.

They usually lay their eggs in rotten or decaying wood and tree stumps because the wood and tree sap becomes food for their larvae, which is due to come out in a few weeks.

There are many exciting things to learn about female stag beetles, so keep reading to find out more.

Female Stag Beetles
Female Stag Beetle

How To Identify Female vs. Male?

There are over a thousand species of stag beetles in the world. The Lucanidae family is home to giant species that can grow more than 4 inches.

However, the average length of an adult beetle is only around 2 inches.

The stag beetle population comprises both males and females, but it is sometimes difficult to tell which is which.

The simplest way to identify a female from a male is via the mandibles. The female beetles have small but powerful mandibles, whereas the males have large but ineffective ones.

In the larval stage, the females can be distinguished from their male counterparts due to their cream-colored ovaries, which are visible on their backs.

Lastly, in almost all species in the family, females are smaller than males on average.

How Big is a Female Stag Beetle?

Female stag beetles have smaller mandibles than males. Thus, females have a smaller body size than males.

A typical female stag beetle is between 24-48 mm compared to a male, who is usually 35-37 mm.

How Do They Mate?

There is a reason why male adult stag beetles have large mandibles. They use them to wrestle with each other because it helps decide which one gets to mate with a nearby female.

The mating ritual between stag beetles begins with the male widening its antlers and showing them off to the female.

If there are multiple males, as mentioned already, there is a fight-off. The one who can hold up the opponent on its back with his beetles becomes the winner.

Usually, these fights can last for several minutes, especially if the two males are evenly matched..

The winner is considered ‘aggressive’ enough to mate with the female. Once the mating is complete, the female finds moist dead wood or tree stumps to lay eggs.

Where Do They Live?

Stag beetles are found worldwide, including in the US, UK, parts of Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

In the US, you can find about 30 stag beetle species, many of which can be found in the Kentucky region. The cottonwood stag beetle species are found in Arizona.

Stag beetles are usually found in areas with less rainfall and high temperatures. It is easier for them to find primary food sources like tree stumps, sap, wood chips, and log piles.

There are three main species of stag beetles found in the UK. The first is Lucanus Cervus, the most popular species of stag beetle in the UK.

The second is Dorcus paralellapipidus, the relative of Lucanus Cervus and lesser stag beetle, and finally, Sinodendron cylindricum, also known as the rhinoceros beetle.

Female Stag Beetles
Female Golden Stag Beetle

How Many Eggs Do They Lay?

A typical stag beetle female lays around 30 eggs in one go. The egg laying happens in late summer, and it takes about 2-3 weeks for the eggs to hatch.

Where Do They Lay Eggs?

The female adult stag beetles lay eggs in rotting wood or pile beneath the soil. She may also lay eggs in dead wood chips because the stag beetle larvae feed on decaying and rotten wood.

What Do The Larvae Look Like?

The stag beetle larvae are white-colored insects with orange heads. They have three pairs of legs, the same as a fully-grown adult beetle.

They also have small brown antlers, which are nearly invisible to the naked eye. The larvae take about six years to grow to full size.

During this time, they go through several instar stages, growing by feeding on rotten wood.

What Do They Eat?

Adult stag beetles only live for a few weeks, using up the stored fat from their larval stage.

However, they occasionally get moisture and energy from tree sap and decaying fruits.

The larvae feed on rotting wood until they transform into adult beetles.

Female Stag Beetles
Placid Female Stag Beetle

Frequently Asked Questions

Do female stag beetles bite?

They may look fearsome, but stag beetles do not usually bite. The females can bite you if they are mishandled or feel threatened, but the bites are not particularly harmful. 
However, know that the bites might be painful, and therefore it is best to maintain your distance from them.

Can female stag beetles fly?

Even though it is pretty rare, female stag beetles can fly. The males can also fly to find a mate during the season from May to August. You will usually find them flying only at dusk, and that too on warm evenings.

Do female stag beetles have pincers?

The female stag beetles have pincers, but they are smaller than the male mandibles. While the males use their mandibles to fight each other off to impress the females, the females use them to bite and defend themselves.

What happens if a stag beetle bites you?

Stag beetle bites are not poisonous or venomous. If you pick them up, and they feel threatened, they might pinch you, causing a fairly painful bite.
Bites can cause redness, itching, and swelling in the affected area, but the impact might subside within an hour or so.

Wrap Up

The more you learn about them, the more the female stag beetles seem fascinating.

After all, they are courted by males who fight over them while they wouldn’t move an inch for the male’s benefit!

They have a simple life cycle, and when the time comes, they are good mothers.

They make sure to lay eggs only near a good source of food so that their larvae can survive and thrive for years to come.

Thank you for reading all about them!


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Stag Beetles

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • I just have to say, that I loved how she was described as “purposefully marching across my suburban patio”.

  • This beetle is a male Dorcus parallelipipedus. Compared to greater stag beetle, the lesser stag beetle is smaller (especially males compared to lucanus cervus males because they do not have so great jaws) and darker (black compared to brown). It is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two species because there are Lucanus cervus females who have black body color. The best way to do it is to watch the middle tibia. Lesser stag beetle has 1 spike on it but greater stag beetle has 3 spikes.

    • Thanks for the correction Mardikavana. We always appreciate your input. We wondered if perhaps this might be a Lesser Stag Beetle, but the angle of the photo was so odd, we were uncertain.

  • Where was the date you found Bugman? I know every once in a while my camera when I turn it on — for no apparent reason — wants to do the whole date & time thing over again. If I don’t have time to waste playing its game (perhaps there is a bug I want to capture) then I will just hit okay and end up with a January 1st date which will keep time until the next date demand instance, or I realize and change the date (rarely does that happen), so no telling what the date will be on my photos. But I am sure there are quite a few that have January 8 on them no matter what time of year it was actually taken. The other possibility is that “Jan” was chosen rather than “Jun”

  • We found a stag beetle today 6/28/2021 in Gaylord Michigan Ostego county in a wooded sub. It flew in to my house through an opened slider.


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