Stag Beetles Uncovered: Understanding Their Behavior and Habitat

In this article, we talk about everything related to the Stage Beetle

There are only a few insects in this world that have jaws that are almost as big as their bodies. One of them is the stag beetle.

These insects have massive mandibles that look similar to the antlers of an adult stag (in proportion to their body size)

Stag beetles love to show off their big and strong mandibles to assert dominance and attract females.

Yes, they look sturdy and highly intimidating. But is there a need to be scared of these insects? The answer is no.

There are a lot of fascinating things that we don’t know about these insects, and this article will help uncover them. Time to put on your reading glasses.

What Are Stag Beetles?

Stag beetles are known for their long and strong jaws that resemble the antlers of a stag. If you compare, the male adult beetles have bigger jaws than the female beetles.

Mostly these beetles have a glossy black body with a pair of chestnut brown colored wings.

The males show an average growth of 1.37-2.95 inches in length, and the females usually grow from 1.18-1.96 inches.

You can often spot the males indulged in brawls using their mandibles to find mates. Females, on the other hand, are mostly seen near the ground, searching for suitable spots to lay eggs.

Stag Beetle

Stag Beetle Types

Stag beetle populations are widely scattered throughout the world. You will be surprised to know that there are around 1,200 stag beetle species worldwide. Mentioned below are some details about a few of them.

Giant Stag Beetle

The giant stag beetle is considered to be one of the largest beetles that live in dead wood. These beetles show an average body size of around 2.5 inches in length.

Despite their massive size and popularity, their ideal living habitats are still unknown. The giant stag beetles highly depend on dead wood for their survival.

Also, the giant stag beetle larvae are mainly found in wet logs.

stag beetle
Giant Stag Beetle

Cottonwood Stag Beetle

Cottonwood stag beetles, also known as Lucanus mazama, usually prefer to stay in areas with loose soil and high temperatures.

Similar to most stag beetles, they too have shiny black bodies. They generally grow from 1.02-1.14 inches in length.

A riparian area with plenty of old cottonwood trees is a suitable environment for these insects to live and grow.

stag beetle
Cottonwood Stag Beetle. Source: xpdaCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Golden Stag Beetle

Unlike most of its relatives in the stag beetle family, the golden stag beetle is not glossy black.

These beetles have shiny bodies with a touch of golden hue and measure between 0.59 to 0.98 inches in length.

The adult beetles are mostly golden green, golden yellow, and dull brown in color. Some Golden female stag beetles can also be blue and blue-green.

Such beetles are native to Australia and can be abundantly found in different regions of Tasmania, Victoria, and South-East Australia.

stag beetle
Golden Stag Beetle

Rainbow Stag Beetle

Rainbow stag beetles (Phalacrognathus Muelleri) are native to the forest areas of Queensland, Australia.

Similar to the golden stag beetles, they, too, have colorful bodies that resemble the flashing colors of a rainbow.

Like most stag beetles, they have two huge mandibles which differ in size according to the gender of the insect.

The males have larger jaws compared to the females. Also, if you look closely, you will notice that the females have longitudinal marks on the thorax.

stag beetle
Rainbox Stag Beetle

Stag Beetle Vs. Rhino Beetle: How To Differentiate?

The rhino beetle is another insect that is known for its giant jaws. Similar to stag beetle weaponry, they use them to fight to win territories and mating rights.

Both these insects might look alike at first glance, but if you look closely, you will notice that the Rhino beetles have mandibles that jut forward from their head like a Rhino.

While the stag beetles horns are placed horizontally.

The Rhino beetles are also bigger and a little heavier than the stag beetles.

What Does A Stag Beetle Eat?

Adult stag beetles do not consume solid food; the females drink sweet juices obtained from decomposing fruits, tree saps, vegetables, plants, etc.

Males rely on the fat reserves built during the larval stage.

During this stage, the larvae actively consume dead and decaying matter like wood to store fats in the body, so they can survive well as adults.

Stag Beetle Grub

Where Do Stag Beetles Live?

These species of beetles mostly rely on dead and decaying wood to fulfill their diets; therefore, woodlands can be considered their natural habitat.

Apart from being near some log piles, they also like to be around traditional orchards, parks, and gardens (with dead wood around).

Also, they prefer to be in warmer regions where the larvae can grow rather than in shaded canopies of dense forests.

Life Cycle of A Stag Beetle

The female stag beetles can lay up to 24 eggs at once. It all starts when the males get attracted by the female pheromones, and often they indulge in fights to win mating rights.

The female searches for an underground spot near rotting wood to lay the eggs. These eggs are tiny and take around 30 days to hatch.

When the larvae emerge, they are white in color, but after a while, it starts developing a unique bright orange color.

As soon s it emerges, they transfer to the nearest deadwood pile, where they feed for almost six years before emerging as adults.

The primary purpose of continuously eating is to have enough fats stored in the body so they can use them as adults to survive.

Right before moving into the final stages of being a larva, they start building a cocoon around themselves.

This is usually made of chewed wood and mud. After completely covering itself in this shell, they start pupating.

From this stage, you can start distinguishing between the males and the females. The males will slightly pierce out their mandibles from the pupa.

It takes around 60 days for the pupation period to complete. By the summer, a fully developed adult stag beetle emerges from the ground and goes on to start this cycle again.

Mating Rituals of Stage Beetles

As mentioned in the above section, the males are attracted to the female pheromones. Once they locate the female, try to win her over by putting on a display of their antlers.

They open their jaws wide and walk slowly to show off their features and to impress the female.

If there is more than one male interested in the same female, the score is settled through a fight.

Here both parties wrestle with each other using the mandibles.

Whoever can turn the opponent on its back wins the fight and earns the mating right. The loser has to depart and try his luck somewhere else.

The brawls are not too dangerous, with injuries being unlikely. Also, the males often prefer to mate with multiple females.

How Long Do Stag Beetles Live?

It takes around 30 days for the larva to emerge from eggs. From there, they take almost six years to come out as adult stag beetles. The adults can only live for a few weeks and spend most of their time mating and reproducing.

Do Stag Beetles Bite?

Stag beetles are not aggressive and dangerous, but you can’t ignore the fact that these insects have huge and strong mandibles that can be used for biting.

Therefore you must not mishandle these insects as they will think that you are trying to attack them and bite back in defense.

Since they have strong chewing muscles, the bites can be quite painful.

Are They Poisonous/Venomous?

Stag beetles have a sturdy and intimidating appearance, but in reality, they are not harmful to humans.

Yes, they can deliver painful bites, but these bites are not venomous and won’t cause any fatal injury or illness. They will not attack if you don’t disturb them.

Are They Harmful to Humans and Pets?

Stag beetles are not harmful to humans if they are not constantly threatened and disturbed.

If you approach these insects recklessly, they will use their strong jaws to bite, which is very painful.

Can They Come Inside Homes?

Stag beetles larvae usually stay underground near dead and decaying wood.

There is very little chance of them entering your homes as they prefer to be around the food source that is dead and decaying matter.

What Are Stag Beetles Attracted To?

Stag beetles are attracted to warm regions with loose soil, where they can lay eggs.

They also like to be around places that have plenty of sources to get dead and decaying matter like rotting wood.

Sometimes adults are also attracted to lights at night.

How To Get Rid of Stag Beetles?

These beetles might sound fascinating but having them around your home and garden is a little too much.

To get rid of these insects, you must ensure that you remove all the foliage in your garden every day.

Make sure that you remove all dead and rotting pieces of wood from the garden, as they are prime locations for the stag beetles to live.

If you come across a few near your house, catch them using safety gloves, and drop them in soapy water to exterminate them.

Interesting Facts About Stag Beetles

Apart from the things mentioned in the sections above, there are a few more notable things about stag beetles that are highly interesting. Here are a few of them:

  1. Stag beetles are also found in the UK, and the European stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) is considered one of the largest beetles in the entire country. They can grow up to 2.95 inches in length. This is almost equal to the size of an adult human thumb.
  2. The size and strength of an adult stag beetle are determined by the amount of dead and rotting wood these insects consume as larvae. Therefore, the females need to lay eggs near spots with an abundance of food.
  3. The fights between the males to earn mating rights highly depend on the size of the mandibles. Whoever has larger jaws will most probably win the battle. If both opponents are evenly matched in terms of size, it can take several minutes or even hours for a brawl to end.
  4. In the UK, you will find these beetles in southeast England. They are common along the regions of Severn valley and the southwest coast. You will also spot them near the southern and central regions of Europe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Stag Beetle rare?

There are around 1,200 species of stag beetles scattered around the globe, so they are not rare in this sense.
These fascinating creatures are found in different regions of Australia, the UK, the US, and more.
They prefer to be around loose soil, and warm temperatures to they can easily lay eggs underground.

How do you identify a Stag Beetle?

Stag beetles can be easily identified by the two long mandibles that look like the antlers of a stag. Mostly they have black-colored bodies.
In some cases, they can be dull brown, metallic blue, golden green, golden yellow, and even multicolored like a rainbow.
The larvae have a distinct orange-colored body, and they live in decaying wooden logs

Is it safe to pick up stag beetle?

You should not pick up a stag beetle with bare hands. These insects have big mandibles and strong chewing muscles. Moreover, they can bite.
The bites can be quite painful. If you want to pick them up, it is wise to use safety gloves to stay safe from the bites.

Why am I finding stag beetles in my house?

At night adult stag beetles are attracted to warm surfaces and light sources. So if you find these insects in your house, they probably were chasing the lights during night time.
Also, since they are attracted to decaying wood, it is good to keep your surroundings clean to avoid them.

Wrap Up

Although stag beetles are found in large numbers worldwide, there is a lot that we don’t know about these insects.

These insects can live up to 7 years and spend most of their lives as larvae consuming dead wood. They are extremely fierce when it comes to mating.

The males often brawl to win mating rights. Despite all this, these insects are not at all harmful to humans and pets.

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Yes, they can deliver painful bites but only when they feel threatened. The stag beetles are not at all aggressive towards humans.

We hope the article gave you an overall idea of what these insects are. Thank you for taking the time to read the article.

Reader Emails

Several readers have, over the years, shared with us photos and information regarding these magnificent creatures.

From their giant mandibles to their mating habits, these creatures are a bug lover’s delight.

Please read through some of these emails and enjoy the collection of comments, information, queries, and pics that we have assembled for you below.

We hope that it will inspire you to go out and spot a few near your home as well!

Letter 1 – Positively Gargantuan Elephant Stag Beetles stampeding into the public awareness!!!

 

beetle question
Hi! I have attached pictures of a beetle I found this weekend at our home in Missouri . It was quite intimidating. I am looking forward to hearing what type of beetle it is. I’ve been told rhinoceros beetle but haven’t seen any with that name that looks like this big fellow.
Marjorie

Hi Marjorie,
This has to be the grand daddy of all Elephant Stag Beetles, Lucanus elephus. He is positively gargantuan. We might be dealing with radiation and a sci-fi movie here.

Letter 2 – Elephant Stag Beetle in the hand!!!

 

Could you help me identify this beetle which we found in our office?
Brian from Alabama

Hi Brian,
This is a Male Stag Beetle from the species Lucanus elephus, the Elephant Stag Beetle. Stag Beetles get their name because the large mandibles of the male resemble a stag’s antlers.

Letter 3 – Elephant Stag Beetle

 

What’s That Bug?
Are the attached pictures a male stag beetle, Lucanus elaphus? He was found on our back patio in Raleigh, NC. My daughter (10) and husband had quite a time "playing" with him before his release! Your site is most helpful! Thanks!
J. Lanier

Hi J.,
What an artful photograph of the Elephant Stag Beetle, a male with some impressive “antlers”.

Letter 4 – Elephant Stag Beetle

 

beetle I.D.
We love your site! My son and I just saw this handsome fellow walking down our path (we live in Chapel Hill, NC). He is about 1.75" long, including the formidable pincers. We looked through your beetles but didn’t see him. Could you identify him for us?
Thanks,
Linda and Eric

Hi Linda and Eric,
We have many photos of Elephant Stag Beetles, Lucanus elephus, on our site.

Letter 5 – Elephant Stag Beetle

 

What’s That Bug
Bugman,
I found this bug in Tennessee on my back porch one night. I did a search for beetles, insects, beetles with pinchers, and never came up with much. Can you help?
Thanx,
Richard

Hi Richard,
What a wonderful image of the Elephant Stag Beetle, Lucanus elaphus. Those are sure trophey “antlers”.

Letter 6 – Male Elephant Stag Beetle

 

What’s this??
I live in east Tennessee, near southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. This bug has a hard shell, LARGE pinschers, and it’s feet seem to have hooks to hold on tight to most any surface. It is about 1 1/2 inches long… What is it??
Thanks!
Lisa

Hi Lisa,
What an impressive photo of a male Elephant Stag Beetle, Lucanus elephus. We are sure it will give some of our readers nightmares even though it is harmless.

Letter 7 – Elephant Stag Beetle

 

stag beetle
; Hello. I’m attaching a picture of an elephant stag beetle. I thought you might like the picture. I live down here in Northern Alabama. I saw the picture of the stag beetle that had been needlessly killed and so I feel like I should send you a good picture of a live happy one. This little guy has been hanging around my rose bush for two days now and he’s still there. Well I hope you enjoy the picture. I love your website. I visit it several times each day. Keep it going! It’s a really nice website! Oh and by the way you may have to resize the picture. God bless!
Isaac

Hi Isaac,
What a beautiful photograph of a beautiful Elephant Stag Beetle. Also, thanks for your touching letter.

Letter 8 – Elephant Stag Beetle

 


We hope "When in doubt, Kill" is not a motto you live by. In the interest of education, we feel compelled to lecture you on this textbook Unnecessary Carnage. The Elephant Stag Beetle is an elegant insect and not at all harmful despite its fierce appearance. Your photo has saddened us. Read this about 3 hours before I found the same bug on my front porch. Don’t worry,it’s still alive and well. Attached the picture,enjoy!
Desi

Hi Desi,
You have cheered us immensely whereas the last squashed photo we received of this species was terribly depressing.

(06/17/2006)
I suppose it’s stag beetle season.After my encounter with the really large one the day before,I found this two inch fellowon the back deck last night.It was friendly enough to pose for me for a bit.After that he decided he liked my long black hair,took me a while to get him out.I’m afraid I freaked out my whole family,but hey,I got good shots 😉 We’re in Adairsville ,N W Georgia.
Desi

Hi Again Desi,
Wow, you do live in Stag Beetle Central.

Letter 9 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetles Mating

 

whats that bug, and bug/love
found on my front porch wall, after midnight

This is the first photo we have ever received of Stag Beetles mating. This is the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus carpreolus.

Letter 10 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Flying in our backyard in Portland Maine
Hi,
This large beetle, about 2 inches in length was flying around our screened in porch tonight (july 1, 2008). I’ve never seen anything like it and was hoping you would identify it for us. We live in Portland, Maine, in the city but on a very green and tree-lined street. Thanks in advance.

This beauty is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus.

Letter 11 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

reddish brown stag beetle in Tennessee
Hey bugman,
I live in Seymour, Tennessee, which is in the Knoxville area, and today I found this beautiful stag beetle under a garbage bag full of leaves that is currently sitting on our back patio. I know you probably get a lot of stag beetle images but these turned out so nice I had to share them with you. Enjoy! I cant thank you enough for the hours of entertainment I have gotten from your site.
Michael Davis

Hi Michael,
We are thrilled to post your exquisite image of a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus.

Letter 12 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

What in the heck IS this thing??!!
Hey folks!
Found 7/21/06 crawling on our sidewalk in Indianapolis, Indiana. We’re betting that you know what this thing is. This time we’ve included the picture as an attachment. For some reason, you are unable to get the picture included in an email. We sincerely hope that you will not have opened this email without being able to access a picture. Thanks again!
Ann Topmiller

Hi Ann,
Now we have your photo. It is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, a male. Females have much smaller mandibles.

Letter 13 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

NJ Beetle-ya wanna make something of it?
Your site is wonderful–I wish I was still teaching science, my kids would visit every day! I wanted to send you this pic of another NJ Reddish Brown Stag Beetle. (This one’s alive, yay!) Found in Princeton, NJ crawling out of a patch ground cover ivy today, Monday July 17th. I was coming out of the laundry and saw this guy crawling down the wall bold as brass. The picture doesn’t do his beautiful color justice. About 2 inches long.
Miriam
Princeton, NJ

Hi Miriam,
Thanks for the letter and photo of a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle.

Letter 14 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Some kind of beetle? With pincers?
Hi and congrats on being featured in this month’s Real Simple magazine! We found this critter on our balcony today, he was already dead. Eastern Central Jersey, right near the woods. Thanks if you are able to get to this.
Barb

Hi Barb,
This is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus. We will have to check out the news stand today.

Letter 15 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Elephant stag beetle ?
This was on my door screen. Is it a Stag Beetle ?
Janet

Hi Janet,
Yes this is a Stag Beetle, but not the Elephant Stag Beetle. It is the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, formerly Pseudolucanus capreolus.

Letter 16 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle and airplane ad

 

thought that you might know what this bug is
Gentlemen:
I saw your ad in an airplane and took this picture to see if you might know what it is. This showed up on the back screen door during a rainstorm in the evening a few weeks ago in Ohio. Great website. Thanks,
Bill.

Hi Bill,
This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus. He is harmless. What, pray tell, do you mean by “saw your ad in an airplane”? We are not advertising, and we are more than curious about the ad appearing in an airplane. Please clarify.

Letter 17 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

stag beetle?
I’ve been told this is a Stag Beetle. He (she?) flew onto the screen on our porch and then started harassing my wife! Then he beat up the dime (not really). Western PA.
Matty Mo’
p.s. – I have "bug love" for What’s That Bug?

Hi Matty Mo’,
You are correct. This is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle.

Letter 18 – Brownish Red Stag Beetle

 

Beetle?
We found this sucker on our screen near the spotlight at night. It’s about an inch or so big. Please help us figure out exactly what it is. Thanks!
Scott

Hi Scott
This ia a male Brownish Red Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus. They are attracted to lights.

Letter 19 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 12:26 AM
Tonight I was taking one of my dogs out, and saw him sniffing at something on the porch by the door mat. I looked closer and found this reddish brown stag beetle. It’s been over 15 years since I’ve seen one here. I have attached one photo, but I took a total of 16 very good full resolution pictures of him that I uploaded to my insects & spiders set on Flickr. If you want to see the others too, the link is:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/andywayne/sets/72157621021785362/
Andrew Naylor
Frankton, Indiana

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Andrew,
Though your Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, isn’t our official Bug of the Month, it is nice for us to be able to post a photo of another spectacular member of the genus.  Our readers may read more about the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle on BugGuide.

Letter 20 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle: killed by dog

 

Brown flying beetle.
July 13, 2009
This bug flew into my back door and dropped on the ground, it seemed aggressive as it had pinchers and it acted like it was very defensive. My dog grabbed it, and sadly, it was dead in the morning. It was a pretty big bug, measures almost 1 1/2 length, and 1/2 inch width
Stacey Perry
Baltimore, MD

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Stacey,
We are saddened that this noble Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, has met an untimely end, but we are uplifted to know that you did not play a part in its demise.  Our own feline occasionally catches and eats something we wish had escaped her claws.
Judging by the size of the mandibles, this is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle.

Letter 21 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Stag Beetle?
July 13, 2009
There were several of these bugs coming out of the ground/grass, where I had noticed holes about the size of quarters a few days prior, at dusk. Are these the giant stag beetles? I think there may be an old tree stump in the ground here.
Heidi
Northeast Ohio

Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Heidi,
Though this is a Stag Beetle, it is not the Giant Stag Beetle, our featured Bug of the Month.  Rather it is a relative in the same genus, the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus.  This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle as evidenced by his large mandibles.

Letter 22 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Female Stag close up – if you would like to use it.
July 13, 2009
Found this female American Stag beetle on my porch last night. Thought you might like to use it. I moved it from the porch down to the garden.
Stephanie
Northeastern Pennsylvania

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Stephanie,
Thanks so much for sending us your awesome Stag Beetle photo.  It is not a female though.  This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle whose mandibles are not as large as the featured Bug of the Month, the Giant Stag Beetle.

Letter 23 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Another Stag Beetle!
July 15, 2009
THANK YOU for choosing to make the stag beetle your “Beetle of the Month”. Why? Because my wife found one in the bathroom late last night (!), and I had to figure out what it was before either of us could go to bed. Posting an image on your home page made it quick and easy to get back to sleep knowing we didn’t have a martian invader in our home.
Based on some more research, it seems that maybe it’s unusual to find such a creature in NJ–only 12 miles from Manhattan.
Anyway, I didn’t kill the creature. But here is a picture of him trapped in a glass before I let him outside. (Well, first I checked that it wasn’t a poisonous monster.)
Thanks for your hard work on the site. It really was appreciated last night.
Russell Kahn
Montclair, NJ

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Russell,
Based on the number of letters we have received with images of the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, we chose the wrong species as our Bug of the Month.  The Giant Stag Beetle has much more impressive mandibles, but there doesn’t seem to be as many sightings.  We are happy that you were able to identify this close relative based on the image on our homepage.

Letter 24 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Huge freaking beetle
July 23, 2009
Hi!
I was out late at night with my boyfriend when we came across this large creature in a parking lot. My boyfriend wanted to kill it, I suggested we take a picture instead. Since I helped spare the life of this bug I was wondering if you could help identify what exactly it is?? Thank you!
Sarah
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Sarah,
We are happy that you intervened in your boyfriend’s insecticidal tendencies since we would have been very sad to post your gorgeous Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, on our Unnecessary Carnage page.

Letter 25 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Beetle
June 2, 2010
Found this the other night , may have come out of a potted cucumber plant that we were re-potting. (can’t be positive) Just wondering what it was and if it had been in the dirt in the pot, could it have damaged the roots? His body is about 2 inches long. We put him in a bug box and he burrowed under the dirt in it. Thanks!
AKF
NE Indiana

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear AKF,
This spectacular beetle is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle. Lucanus capreolus.  We suspect it may have been attracted to lights near your plant.  The larvae feed on decaying wood and neither adults nor larvae will attack your potted plants.

Letter 26 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Stag Beetle
June 22, 2010
My mom explained to me that there was some foot-long monster outside, after declaring, “You like bugs, don’t you?”
I took two seconds to identify it as a stag beetle (reddish-brown variety?) and thought I’d get some nice pics.
I don’t know if you can use these, but thought I’d submit them anyways…
…And have fun on your vacation!
MercuryCrest
West Allis, Wisconsin, U.S.

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear MercuryCrest,
We are trying to post a few new letters before attending to things around the house that need attention since we just returned yesterday.  Your letter was the first subject line that caught our eye from the June 22 submissions because we love Stag Beetles and we were happy we didn’t need to spend any time doing research towards an identification.  This is, as you indicate, the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, and it is a male as evidenced by his large mandibles.  There is some great information on BugGuide.

Letter 27 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Beetle in Boston
July 14, 2010
I just saw this beetle on a side street in Boston near my condo. We have lots of old trees in the city, but I’ve never seen a bug like this here. What is it?
Theresa
Boston, MA

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Theresa,
This positively gorgeous specimen is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus.

Letter 28 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

My macro photography
Location: MN, NH, MA
April 12, 2011 3:31 pm
Hi What’s The Bug?,
I am a huge fan of your website, and I thought you might be interested in seeing a few photos I have taken. I primarily photography fish, but I’m also very interested in bugs. Thanks to frequenting this site I knew right away that the bug in the first photograph was a stag beetle. By the time I took the photo of the fly I had purchased a macro lens, which is why there is a significan improvement in the photo quality. Enjoy, and keep up the excellent work!
Signature: Casey

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Casey,
Thanks for the compliment, and we can also tell you to keep up the excellent work.  Your Reddish Brown Stag Beetle image is especially nice.  Most of our Stag Beetle reports come in July, so you photo is a nice anticipation of what summer may bring.  Can you provide us with the actual location for the Stag Beetle?  Is it MN, NH or MA?

Thank you so much for the feature on the front page! The photo of the stag beetle was taken in MN near the Twin Cities.

Letter 29 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Flying bronze/black beetle thing with mean pincers
Location: St Louis, MO
June 23, 2011 1:36 am
I live in south St Louis county, MO. Tonight I was sitting on the porch and this really mean looking bug flew up and landed on the screen. He is about 1.5 inches long. I have never seen anything like this before.
Signature: Pam

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Pam,
This marvelous beetle is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus.  Like many insects, they are attracted to porch lights.

Letter 30 – Pair of Reddish Brown Stag Beetles

 

Staghorn pair
Location: Middlesex County, New Jersey
July 1, 2011 7:28 am
I used your website to identify these beetles.
I thought you might be interested in what I believe to be a male and female Staghorn beetle.
I found these around my home, actually I was alerted by my daughters scream so technically she found them.
Signature: Mark from Woodbridge

Pair of Reddish Brown Stag Beetles

Hi Mark,
We are so excited to be able to post your photos of a pair of Reddish Brown Stag Beetles,
Lucanus capreolus.  It is also wonderful to have such nice documentation of the sexual dimorphism.  The male has the much larger mandibles, and they are allegedly used in sparring contests as males vie for the attention of a female.

Female Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

We hope you released this magnificent pair of Reddish Brown Stag Beetles back into the habitat so that they are able to perpetuate the species.  The larvae of Stag Beetles are significant contributors to breaking down rotting wood so that it can be incorporated into soil as humus, thus increasing the fecundity of the soil.

Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Letter 31 – A Pair of Reddish Brown Stag Beetles in the Kitchen Sink!!!

 

Mr. and Mrs. Stag Beetle in my Kitchen Sink
Location: Chelmsford MA
July 7, 2011 1:37 am
Hi Folks,
I live in Chelmsford, MA. Thanks to your website, I was able to identify these enormous critters in my kitchen sink – I think they are male and female Reddish Brown Stag Beetles.
I have found at least two or these beetles in my kitchen sink every year at about the same time of year (early summer). Yesterday there were three of them in my sink. They must be coming up the drain, because anything that large flying in the house would drive my cats wild.
My questions are:
– Why do they come in to the sink every year?
– Is this normal stag beetle behavior?
– Should I be worried about the condition of my foundation or plumbing?
Your website convinced me that these bugs were worth saving, so I gently set them down in my yard.
Thank you so much for any insight you might be able to give!
Sincerely,
Frances Killam
Thank you for your help,
Frances Killam

Stag Beetles in the Kitchen Sink

Hi Frances,
This is most perplexing.  We read your email just prior to closing the offices for the night, and we felt we needed to be rested and refreshed before we tackled a response.  After a good night’s sleep, we still don’t have a conclusive answer for you.  Stag Beetles do spend their larval stage feeding on rotting wood, so there must be a suitable habitat nearby.  We found this marvelous British website Stag Beetles for Everyone that may provide you with some insight.  We can’t imagine that the Stag Beetles are entering your home through the drain and we would suspect that they have flown in.  Perhaps they are attracted to lights, and if a female arrived first and fell into the sink, her pheromones might attract willing male suitors.  The sink is a trap for many creatures, and once inside, they are stuck.  Perhaps other Stag Beetles have entered your home and those became cat food.  We would also encourage our readership to provide their opinions in our comment section.

Letter 32 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

What is this beetle?
Location: Milwaukee, WI
July 10, 2011 5:54 pm
Please help me identify this little one!
Signature: Brian King

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Brian,
Each year in July, sightings of various Stag Beetles are reported to our site.  This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle.

Letter 33 – Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Stag beetle question
Location: Shenandoah Valley, Va
July 12, 2011 10:07 am
I found this stag beetle on my front porch in the morning laying on his back.
My question is-
Do you think he was dying?
Every time I tried to flip him right side up, he would flip himself onto his back and lay there slowly wiggling his legs.
I tried several times to help him out but he continues to flip onto his back.
Eventually I just moved him into the grass.
Signature: -Heather

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Heather,
We don’t know what is causing this male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle to keep flopping onto his back, but it doesn’t sound like normal behavior.  I would seem that something is amiss.

Letter 34 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: would you please identify this bug, It frightened my wife into no longer wanting to weed the ground cover she loves so dearly
Location: southeastern Pennsylvania (Lancaster)
July 19, 2012 10:47 am
any help in identifying this bug will be appreciated.
Signature: frightened bug lady

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear frightened bug lady,
This is a female Reddish Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus, and she is not dangerous to people.  Both females and males, which have considerably larger mandibles, might nip if carelessly handled.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed in rotting logs. They are not harmful to vegetation.”  Perhaps there was a rotting log or tree near where your wife was weeding.

thank you for the quick response, I’m sure she will be more at ease and I’ll look in the ground cover for some rotted wood.

Letter 35 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Stag beetle
Location: Nashville, TN
June 27, 2013 12:45 pm
I think this is a stag beetle – I found it on my deck this morning. What do they eat and are they destructive? if there is one – can I assume there are more around? I live in Davidson County, Nashville, TN.
Signature: Rose B

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Rose,
This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus, and he is a magnificent creature.  According to BugGuide, adults feed on:  “Tree sap. Adults in captivity for study will readily drink diluted maple syrup or sugar water. Larvae feed in rotting logs. They are not harmful to vegetation.”  Stag Beetles can fly and they are attracted to lights, so this individual may have emerged some distance from your home.  Stag Beetles are not destructive.  They need rotting wood like stumps and logs to survive since the larvae take several years to mature.

Letter 36 – Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Big red bug
Location: Southwestern NJ
July 5, 2013 9:59 pm
Found this imposing looking bug on my kitchen screen door. Didn’t seem aggressive, but those pincers look like they hurt! Should I move and concede the territory?
Signature: Mel

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Mel,
In our opinion, you should not move and concede the territory because of your encounter with this male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus.  Females have smaller mandibles.  Stag Beetles will use their mandibles to defend themselves, but as you observed, Stag Beetles are not aggressive, nor are they dangerous.  They are attracted to lights, which probably explains its presence on the screen door.

Letter 37 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Big brown creepy looking big on window
Location: North east ohio
July 7, 2014 9:24 am
I have found this huge brown big on my window looks to be hard shelled and has two huge curved pinchers in the front it is about 2 inches long and is stuck to the screen on second floor window , have never seen anything like it
Signature: Please help

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

This magnificent insect is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus.

Letter 38 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Stag beetle?
Location: Maryland
July 12, 2014 4:04 pm
I found this stag beetle on the stairs in front of my house in Maryland right outside Washington DC last week. It looks like what one website called a Pinching Bug, which I hope is right because it’s the greatest name ever.
Signature: wombat

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear wombat,
This Reddish Brown Stag Beetle and other members of its family Lucanidae are called Pinching Bugs according to BugGuide.

Letter 39 – Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle drowns in pool

 

Subject: Large beetle with serious pinchers
Location: Rhode Island
July 29, 2014 6:09 pm
Hello, I live in Rhode Island and found this beetle floating in my pool. Unfortunately, it could not be saved. I’m just wondering what type of bug this is and if I should be concerned that there may be more and if they are destructive.
Thank you in advance!
Signature: Lisa

Drowned Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Drowned Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Hi Lisa,
Did you attempt mouth to mouth resuscitation?  This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle.  Males have the more developed mandibles.  This and other Stag Beetles are not destructive, nor are they in any way detrimental to humans, their homes or their belongings.

Letter 40 – Brown Stag Beetle from New Zealand

 

Subject: Insect – Beetle
Location: Auckland. NZ
January 17, 2015 9:00 pm
Found this fellow dead on my porch. Mangere Bridge Auckland. Is it a native beetle?
Signature: Robyn

Probably Stag Beetle
Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Robyn,
The quality of your image, including the focus, is not ideal, but we believe this is some species of Stag Beetle in the family Lucanidae.  Your individual looks very much like an Australian species,
Rhyssonotus nebulosus, and we wonder if thy might be closely related.  We soon learned that this Australian Stag Beetle has become established in New Zealand.  This New Zealand Entomologist pdf indicates that:  “Ryssonotus nebulosus (Kirby) is a large (20-30mm) Australian stag beetle.  According to Moore & Cassis (1992: 16), it has the rather uninspiring common name of ‘Brown Stag Beetle’.  It is rather badly named, for it is a mottled khaki colour. … Gourlay (1954) first reported the presence of R. nebulosus in New Zealand.  It is well known to be established in the Gisborne region, but its presence in the Auckland region has never before been reported.  It has been there since at least 1967.  It is amazing how such a large and spectacular beetle could go almost unnoticed in urban Auckland for so long.”

Letter 41 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Found this bug in my house.
Location: Northwest New Jersey
July 3, 2015 12:34 am
I can’t seem to figure out what kind of bug this is. Should I be worried about this type of bug in my house? I also found one on my porch. Thank you!
Signature: Isaac Hadzovic

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Isaac,
Just yesterday we posted another image of a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle.  Males, like your individual, can be identified by the enlarged mandibles.  Male Stag Beetles are often attracted to lights.  Though they are not considered dangerous and they will not harm your home, if you do not want to be troubled by them, we suggest you turn off the porch light.

Letter 42 – Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Can you help me to identify this insect?
Location: Philadelphia PA (Mt. Airy)
July 3, 2015 9:38 am
Hello Bugman.
I saw this big outside my house in Philadelphia PA two days ago on June 1st.
I’ve looked through a couple insect sites and haven’t found a match yet although I’m thinking it must now be too uncommon.
Thank you!
Signature: Scott

Brownish Red Stag Beetle
Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Scott,
This is the third image of a Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle we have posted to our site in the past two day.  The first we posted yesterday, though it was submitted from Delaware in June while we were on holiday and not responding to identification requests.
  The second arrived from New Jersey today and was posted today.  A third was a very blurry image from Wisconsin that was not posted.  This is the season for emergence of these magnificent beetles in Eastern North America.  They are attracted to lights.

Thank  you.
I discovered your site this morning via a Google search for “insect identification.” After submitting the pics I then noticed the other recent pics of the same insect along with its name. So I was able to quickly learn what it is.
Great site you have.
Scott

Thanks for the compliment Scott.

 

 

Letter 43 – Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: What is it?
Location: Cowan Lake Ohio
July 4, 2015 8:22 pm
Saw this bad boy while camping in south central Ohio.
Signature: Help

Brownish Red Stag Beetle
Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

Sightings of Reddish-Brown Stag Beetles are especially numerous this year.

 

Letter 44 – Male Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Lovely beast!
Location: South central Wisconsin
June 28, 2016 7:03 pm
Pretty sure this is a stag beetle of some sort. Saw him last night and left him alone. Tonight, my wife and I heard some scratching noises near our downspout and assumed it was the usual suspects…ground squirrels. I went to investigate and it was this lumbering bugger making all the noise. I’m forty-three and have never had so much interest in bugs and birds. This one is a treat. He looks so menacing but seemed quite peaceful. Seemingly a large one based on what I found was the average size. Removed him from our fenced yard so the dogs don’t bother him. To live another day. Thank you for a great website. My first submission, I find this website often when I’m trying to indentify something. Thank you.
Signature: Kid43

Brownish Red Stag Beetle
Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Kid43,
This is a male Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus, and it is our first Stag Beetle posting this year.  Thanks for the compliment.

Letter 45 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: What kind of beetle?
Location: Mt. Vernon, Iowa
July 1, 2016 6:24 am
What do these beetles eat?
Signature: Cindy

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Cindy,
This is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus, and according to BugGuide, adults feed on:  “tree sap (in captivity will drink diluted maple syrup or sugar water); larvae feed in rotting logs.”

Letter 46 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle Carnage

 

Subject: But found in Ohio
Location: Northwest Ohio
July 4, 2016 7:26 pm
Not sure what this bug is and any info about it.
Signature: GMyers

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle Carnage
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle Carnage

Dear GMyers,
This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle and it appears to be dead prematurely at the hands of a human, something we here at What’s That Bug? consider to be Unnecessary Carnage.  Stag Beetles pose no threat to humans and we encourage our readership to respect and tolerate the Lower Beasts.

Letter 47 – Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

 

Ed. Note:  July 7, 2016
Summer is here and we are getting numerous submissions of large Beetles from North America, including the impressive Brownish-Red Stag Beetle

Subject: What is this scary thing?
Location: Northeast PA
July 6, 2016 7:01 pm
Hi, I found this on my porch in Northeast PA. Any ideas on what it is?
Signature: Jennifer

Brownish Red Stag Beetle
Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Jennifer,
This is a male Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle,
Lucanus capreolus, and it is the fourth submission of this species we have posted in just over a week.  We suspect it was attracted to your porch light.  According to BugGuide:  “Males use mandibles to fight at breeding sites.”

Letter 48 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: What is this
Location: Boston, ma
July 16, 2016 5:58 pm
A beetle? Boston, July 176
Signature: T jones

Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear T jones,
Yours is the sixth image of a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle we have posted this year since June, so we have the species featured on our scrolling site banner.

Letter 49 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: wondering what Bug this is?
Location: Nutley New Jersey
August 8, 2016 6:15 am
Hi Bugman,
Wondering if you can help. I found this impressive specimen on my back driveway last week. Never seen it before here in Northern New Jersey. Although it was on the paving blocks, it was right next to the edge (see Belgium block ending in one pix), which is right next to lavender plants.
Hope it is just a garden variety, and not something of greater concern…
Thanks for any help….
Signature: Mary

Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Mary,
This is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle.  Males have much larger mandibles than females.

Daniel,
Wow, thanks for the quick reply and for great information.  I checked out other posts about this beetle on your website and learned a lot.  Nice to know it is not destructive.  There is a pile of old firewood nearby, which may have served as the nursery.
You have a wonderful and helpful website, and hope to return to it in the future.
thanks again,
Mary

Letter 50 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Huge beetle… nearly 2″ long
Location: Manassas Va
July 9, 2017 7:17 pm
Can you tell me what these are, are they harmful? Very freaky if nothing else…
Signature: Beetle confirmed

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

This is a harmless, male, Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, one of our favorite summer beetle sightings.

Letter 51 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Can you identify this bug?
Location: Westfield, Indiana, USA
July 9, 2017 4:39 pm
After our garage door had been opened for a while we went in there to find this bug resting on a rug. It’s about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. 6 legs, 2 large pincher like things and bulgy eyes. Can you identify it?
Signature: Jana McIntosh

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Jana,
We just finished posting our first Reddish Brown Stag Beetle of the season.

Letter 52 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Beatle juice ?
Location: Bluffton Indiana
July 11, 2017 7:48 pm
Hello there bugman. Michael here. So this was seen in up state Indians bluffton area. Could you identify it. We have never seen it here before. Thanks much
Signature: Michael

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Michael,
This is the third image of a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle we have posted in just a few days.

Letter 53 – Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

 

Subject:  Big beetle with pincers
Geographic location of the bug:  South western Massachusetts
Date: 07/11/2021
Time: 08:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this beetle walking through the grass near the woods in our yard.  It was slow and about 2 inches long.
How you want your letter signed:  Jenny

Buggy Accessory: Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Dear Jenny,
Your image of this male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle is quite beautiful, but we are obsessed with how effectively you used him as a Buggy Accessory with your gorgeously desiged and rendered tattoos and your perfectly art directed and styled wardrobe.  Thanks for ending our publishing day on such a high note.

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Thank you for your kind message. I wish I could’ve kept him as a bug accessory but I thought he’d prefer the wood pile!

Letter 54 – Stag Beetle and Grapevine Beetle by a Structuralist Insect Photographer

 

A few for your collection!
Hi there Bug People!
I like to photograph only the most taken for granted of things in the world…lowly mushrooms and fungus, insects, small rodents, amphibians, etc… I have included a few ( a very small sampling ) of my ‘insect world’ favorites for 2004. Hope you enjoy them! (Personally, I love the Imperial Moth that befriended my hand…the Stag is second place) All of these photos are from the location described below.
Kindest Regards,
Scott Pierson
Actual Location Data: (of all insect photos attached) Earleville, MD – in a small, private community named ‘Hazelmoor’.
Latitude: 39.4401 Longitude: -76.0247
Time is always (approx) between the hours of 20:30 to 00:00 hrs, EDT

Male Stag Beetle Grapevine Beetle

My Goodness, Scott,
I admire the structuralist tendencies you have applied to your insect photographs. We are posting your Stag Beetle, Pseudolucanus capreolus male, and your Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata, on our Beetles 2004 Page.

Letter 55 – Stag Beetle

 

playground bugs [part 2]
Dear BUGMAN,
Thank you for writing back to us! WE LOVE YOUR SITE!!!!!
We are sending two medium sized photos of our Caddisfly [we thought the other photo we sent might be too small to be seen on the site]. We hope they help others! We also included our favorite stag beetle photo and praying mantis photo [it stayed on the wall next to our classroom door for days! We think it was listening in!] Thank you again for your help!
Always looking for bugs, Fours and fives in PA

Dear Fours and Fives in PA,
Thank you for the additonal photos. We are posting them immediately. Your Stag Beetle is Pseudoleucanus capreolus, a male.

Letter 56 – Stag Beetle

 

Ed. Note: Mike Zellers, former Homebody of the Month, just sent in this photo of a Stag Beetle. We love the interesting “bug’s eye view” perspective.

Letter 57 – Stag Beetle

 

Beetle indentification
Hello! I was wondering if you could identify a beetle I found outside this morning floating in the dogs’ waterbowl. It is approximately one and three quarter inches long from pincher to back leg. Here is the picture I took. If it helps you pinpoint the species, I am in the middle region of Tennessee.
Thank you!
Ondrea

Hi Ondrea,
You have a Stag Beetle, Pseudolucanus capreolus.

Letter 58 – Stag Beetle and Firefly

 

Lucanus Capreolus sends his thanks! Also: Firefly – Photinus
Hi Bugman —
The “Lucanus capreolus, Reddish-brown Stag Beetle” in the attached photo would like to thank you for saving its life! Normally, I’m a “Smash First, Ask Questions Later” kind of person when it comes to bugs, and had it not been for a recent visit to your website, where I happened upon a picture of the Elephant Stag Beetle, “Smash First” would definitely have been my reaction upon catching sight of this monstrous *beast* hanging out near the garage door on Sunday. (It was five inches long! I swear! Well… in my head, anyway. In reality, it was probably about 1.5 inches long.) Anyway, having learned from WTB that these are fairly harmless to people, I let him be. Last I saw, he was headed back to sit amongst the geraniums. (Where, unbeknownst to me until I checked the photos later that evening, he had been hiding out while I was taking some other flower pictures. (Mental note to self: Always wear your Mud Gloves when poking around in the flowers.)) Also attached are some pictures of a Firefly (Lampyridae), Genus Photinus, crawling around on the aforementioned geraniums. I couldn’t find any of this particular genus on your website already, and thought you might like some. Thanks again for WTB!
Brenda
Sun Prairie, WI

Stag Beetle Firefly

Hi Brenda,
Thanks for your nice letter and we are thrilled our humble site helped to save your local Stag Beetle.

Letter 59 – Stag Beetle from Australia: Rhyssonotus nebulosus

 

Australian Stag Beetles
February 6, 2010
Dear Mr. Bugman,
(Currently) On page seven of WTB Downunder, there are some Australian Stag Beetles. Here is another photo of the same beetle-male? It was found in Tathra, NSW, in the grass around our caravan site.
Claudia
Tathra, NSW

Stag Beetle: Rhyssonotus nebulosus

Hi Claudia,
Thanks so much for sending us an additional image of the Australian Stag Beetle Rhyssonotus nebulosus.  The OZ Animals website also has a nice photo of this species.

Letter 60 – Stag Beetle from England

 

What is this!?
Location: Chichester, England
May 30, 2011 6:10 am
Hi, I am writing to you from Chichester, England. I was out last night and spotted this on the high street, do you know what it is!?
Signature: Thanks, Gordon Frew

Male Stag Beetle

Hi Gordon,
This magnificent beetle is a Male Stag Beetle,
Lucanus cervus.  According to the Natural England website:  “This species is now rare and declining in Europe.”  The website also provides this tip:  “In a recent survey of the species, 70% of sightings came from domestic gardens. You can provide a habitat for stag beetles and other dead wood insects by making a pile of logs, ideally with bark on them, placed upright in partial shade and sunk partially into the ground, with plants growing over them to retain humidity they need.”  The UK Safari website has nice information and photos on the life cycle of the Stag Beetle including these special features:  “This is the largest beetle found in Britain, and now sadly, quite rare.  The most noticeable feature of the male are the large antler-like jaws, which give the beetle its name.  They are used during the mating season to fight with other males over territory. Each male tries to grab his opponent between his jaws, and then throw him.  The fully grown male stag beetles can normally be seen flying at dusk between May and August. The warmer temperatures at this time of year encourage them to look for a mate. They will drink tree sap, but do not eat, and will not grow at all. After mating the stag beetle dies.”  You may also be interested in this article on attracting Stag Beetles with ginger from the BBC website.

Letter 61 – Stag Beetle Carnage

 

What Kind of Beetle Is This?
Location: Charlotte, NC
June 23, 2011 10:25 am
Found this already stepped on in front of my gym. I brought it home and my girls wanted to know more about it. I have seen large Single Horned ”Rhino” beetles before, but never one with two big horns/pincers like this. It is about 2 in long and 3/4 in wide.
Signature: Daniel

Stag Beetle Carnage

Hi Daniel,
It troubles us immensely to learn about this senseless slaughter.  This magnificent beetle is a Giant Stag Beetle,
Lucanus elaphus.

Letter 62 – Stag Beetle Absconds with Penny

 

Subject: Is this a stag beetle?
Location: Northeast Pennsylvania (Pittston)
July 1, 2013 8:51 pm
I’m curious if this is a stag beetle and what type it is. This is the 2nd one I’ve seen the past two nights. I’ve been at my home over 10 years now, and this is the 1st time I’ve seen a beetle like this here. The photos are of the one I saw tonight. The one from last night was somewhat larger, and unfortunately, was not able to photograph in time. Since my dog actually found it on our back porch (and got a little pinch), I was wondering if this beetle is harmful to dogs?
Signature: Eric M

Stag Beetle Eyes Penny
Stag Beetle Eyes Penny

Dear Eric,
You are correct.  This is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus.  It is a male and it is not harmful to people or pets, but you should be forewarned that he is capable of pinching and it is conceivable that a pinch might draw blood, but rest assured that the Stag Beetle has no toxins nor poisons known to man.  We hope your photo doesn’t start rumors that Stag Beetles and other bugs are responsible for our debt problems, especially given this home invasion.

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Letter 63 – Stag Beetle from Macedonia

 

Subject: Enormous bug
Location: Skopje, Macedonia
July 4, 2013 6:33 pm
A few nights ago I was sitting in my yard, when suddenly, out of nowhere this enormous bug landed right behind me. Usually I love bugs – when they are small and cute 🙂 But this one really scared me. So, if you have time, I would really appreciate if you can tell me what kind of bug this is. Thanks.
Signature: Monika

Stag Beetle
Stag Beetle

Hi Monika,
This impressive guy is a male Stag Beetle.  Though they are not dangerous, a Stag Beetle might use his impressive mandibles to pinch someone who carelessly handles him.  Stag Beetles are becoming endangered in many parts of their natural range.  We believe your European Stag Beetle is Lucanus cervus and you can read more about this magnificent creature on the British Natural History Museum website.

Letter 64 – Endangered Stag Beetle found dead in London

 

Subject: Scorpion type insect
Location: London
May 27, 2017 5:04 am
Hi good afternoon I have found what looks like a scorpion type insect in my back garden I am located in Hayes Middlesex London I would really appreciated if someone could identify what type it is as I have very young kids the youngest being four months old and feel a little bit nervous. I hope you can help thank you
Signature: Stephen

Stag Beetle Carnage

Dear Stephen,
We are very disturbed by your image of a very dead male Stag Beetle,
Lucanus cervus, because indications are that it was alive when you found it.  Stag Beetles are perfectly harmless as they have neither venom nor poison, and the large mandibles of the males are not used for biting people, but rather to fight among themselves when competing for a mate.  This is considered an endangered species throughout much of Europe.  According to The Wildlife Trusts:  “Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.”  The Wildlife Trusts also states:  “The Stag Beetle is the UK’s largest beetle and is found in south-east England, particularly in south and west London. It prefers oak woodlands, but can be found in gardens, hedgerows and parks. The larvae depend on old trees and rotting wood to live in and feed on, and can take up to six years to develop before they pupate and turn into adults. The adults have a much shorter lifespan: they emerge in May with the sole purpose of mating, and die in August once the eggs have been laid in a suitable piece of decaying wood. Look for the adults on balmy summer evenings, when the males fly in search of mates. Once the male has found a mate, he displays his famously massive, antler-like jaws to her, and uses them to fight off rival males, in a similar fashion to deer.”  According to People’s Trust for Endangered Species:  “Spectacular stag beetles are one of our largest beetles. Sadly their numbers are declining across Europe and they are now extinct in some countries. In the southern parts of the UK they are doing much better but they still need our help.”  According to UK Safari:  “Stag Beetles are the largest beetles found in the U.K. and they’re now quite rare.  The decline of our Stag Beetles is mainly as a result of habitat loss.  Some are killed by cars on roads, and since they spend such a long time in the larval stage they are also vulnerable to predation.”  According to BBC:  “One of the UK’s most iconic insects is under threat and becoming increasingly rare to find, and that’s a real shame.”  We hope the next time you encounter an unknown creature, you resist the urge to kill it because there are really very few animals in London that pose any threat to humans, and that you make an attempt to identify it before taking such an irreversible action.  We hope you teach your children to appreciate the wonders of the natural world and not to fear them.  Our mission from our inception has been to provide information to the web browsing public so that they have a better appreciation of the lower beasts.  Alas, we have no choice but to tag this posting as Unnecessary Carnage.

Thank you very much for your email it was my four-year-old son whom found it in the garden  lying upside down in that position and was already dead,  but thank you for your advice.

Authors

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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30 thoughts on “Stag Beetles Uncovered: Understanding Their Behavior and Habitat”

  1. BugGuide indicates that these are found in the East, but insectidentification.org shows that these are found in many of the Midwest states, too.

    Strangely, I’ve only seen two in my life. The one pictured above, and a larger Black Stag Beetle around 20 years ago in a similar location.

    Beautiful, aren’t they?

    Reply
  2. The only stories I’ve ever heard about bugs coming out of drains, is when a tap that isn’t used for a long time is finally turned on, whatever was living in it before (usually a spider) is flushed out by the water. I recently had a situation similar to this one, except it was with a giant slug in the bathtub. I know it didn’t come out of the drain, and I’m pretty sure I would have seen it slowly making it’s way to the bathroom, but I didn’t. Bugs can be very sneaky and can crawl into homes through very small gaps that we wouldn’t normally notice. There’s also a theory that all living things are attracted to the energy of running water. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but it sure would help explain why everyone’s always finding critters in the sink or tub!

    Reply
  3. Update-
    An hour later I checked on him and he was indeed dead. He is sitting in my herb garden for the kids to take a look at.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. I’ve seen the “back-flipping” a few times before, and most of the time it was because the bug was either sick or hurt. I’ve also seen it happen after a bug was suddenly moved from once space to another, but after a few minutes, they permanently flipped over on their legs and went on their merry way.

    Reply
  5. Just this day here in central Indiana I saw a stag beetle and my friend said he had also seen them this week. I had to look on this site to identify the species (tonight), are these seasonal? Is there a hatch in progress?

    Reply
    • Stag Beetle sightings peak in July and this helps to ensure that mature individuals capable of mating will also be coeval, though stragglers may be early and late.

      Reply
  6. I saw a similar one on my driveway that was almost all black. Oddly, I saw another one at an orthodontist’s office doing the same behavior. Can anybody identify him? It is near Toledo, Ohio (northern Ohio, less than 60 minutes from Detroit.)

    http://i.imgur.com/pBucD.jpg

    Reply
  7. Just a quick note to tell you your new posts have not been showing up on the front page of the blog since July 11th! That’s 25 1/2 pages of of blog going unread!

    Reply
    • Very curious. It seems fine on our end, so we are copying our webmaster to get his opinion. This is our most recent posting. If they are not showing, how were you able to comment?

      Reply
  8. I enjoyed your response, but the pedant in me objected to the line “Did you attempt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?” After all, insects don’t breath through their mouths. I understand that mouth-to-thorax resuscitation might seem a tad creepy, but for bugs the breath of life is sustained by the miracle of spiracle.

    Reply
    • You are absolutely correct, but our response was prompted by the querent’s subject line. Thanks for pointing out the scientific absurdity in our joke.

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  9. Hey.. I was out in my yard today and came across this bug.. he was on his back and struggling, so I helped him flip over and then moved him to a safer location (away from foot and paw traffic and nosy dogs). He seemed to be a bit wobbly..

    Then, a few hours later, I found him again, on his back. This time, I flipped him over and he held his head up and his pincers open.. but I got him moved to another ‘safe’ location.

    I got some pictures and thought I’d share. I wasn’t sure what it was until I found your site in a google search. Thanks!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/madaise/sets/72157655005657430

    Reply
  10. Hey.. I was out in my yard today and came across this bug.. he was on his back and struggling, so I helped him flip over and then moved him to a safer location (away from foot and paw traffic and nosy dogs). He seemed to be a bit wobbly..

    Then, a few hours later, I found him again, on his back. This time, I flipped him over and he held his head up and his pincers open.. but I got him moved to another ‘safe’ location.

    I got some pictures and thought I’d share. I wasn’t sure what it was until I found your site in a google search. Thanks!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/madaise/sets/72157655005657430

    Reply
  11. Found a stag beetle on my shoulder one night after sitting on the front porch. It was a male I am assuming, it had two pinchers. I thought it may have pinched my shoulder or it could have been the legs trying to hold on. this stag beetle was found in Piedmont, Alabama

    Reply
  12. I was just driving home when I felt something on my leg I went down to swipe it off n it bit me it hurt and I started bleeding, I didn’t know were it went but next thing I knew it was on my arm and I didn’t even see it fly

    Reply
  13. I pulled one of these bad boys out of my pool skimmer. It was seemingly dead. Now it is back to life! Its huge.

    Reply
  14. We found the Reddish Brown Stag Beetle in our backyard rock garden in Chatham, New Jersey. We got a really good look at him/it but didn’t have a cell phone or camera outside with us. It is definitely the same as your picture(s) and had definite curved horns.

    Reply
  15. I found one in my room this morning ( have no clue HOw he got in here) and he keeps flipping over, and like I would put him outside but…. I kinda feel like he’s gonna be dead in 30 secs if I do that…?

    Reply
  16. I found one in my room this morning ( have no clue HOw he got in here) and he keeps flipping over, and like I would put him outside but…. I kinda feel like he’s gonna be dead in 30 secs if I do that…????

    Reply
  17. Central minnesota,usa.
    My son’s friend was bitten by a stag beetle tonight.
    When my son tried to remove it from his arm, it hang on quite a bit. Luckily it let go and my son was able to catch it alive and throw it back outside.

    Reply
  18. Central minnesota,usa.
    My son’s friend was bitten by a stag beetle tonight.
    When my son tried to remove it from his arm, it hang on quite a bit. Luckily it let go and my son was able to catch it alive and throw it back outside.

    Reply

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