Stag Beetle Bite: What Should You Do?

What should you do if you get a stag beetle bite? This article will tell you why you needn’t worry much.

Any insect with a pair of huge and sharp mandibles should be extremely dangerous to humans, right? Well, not always.

Big and sharp jaws should always be a concern, but not all insects are aggressive enough to attack humans and cause them harm.

Stag beetles are one such species. They look intimidating and dangerous at first glance, but the reality is different.

Stag Beetle Bite
Chilean Stag Beetle

Yes, they can bite, but neither do they have any inclination to do this, nor do the bites have any long-term adverse effects.

In this article, we will learn more about the bites of stag beetles and why you need not worry about them.

Do Stag Beetles Bite?

Stag beetles usually do not attack humans, but if you try to grab them recklessly, they will bite. The big mandibles assisted with strong chewing muscles deliver painful bites.

However, in a typical case of sexual dimorphism, males usually have bigger mandibles than females. They use these mandibles to wrestle fellow males to obtain access to females for mating opportunities.

There are different types of stag beetles with varying biting powers.

Cottonwood stag beetle, giant stag beetle, and Cyclommatus metallifer stag beetles are some of the members of the stag beetle family that are blessed with strong chewing muscles and can harm humans through biting.

Species like the rainbow stag beetle have a weak biting force and are not harmful to humans.

How Do Stag Beetles Bite?

You will be fascinated to know that stag beetles don’t use their large jaws to bite and eat.

They use them to attract females and get mating rights. According to a study by Jana Goyens, it must be difficult for these beetles to bite with these jaws.

The main reason behind this is that it takes a lot of effort to transfer strong bite forces from the muscles in the beetle’s entire head to the tip of the mandibles.

But since the chewing muscles are strong, the bites remain effective.

Male Stag Beetle

How Do The Bites Compare with Other Beetles?

Since most beetles are known for their large mandibles, they can bite.

But surprisingly, not every beetle has strong enough chewing muscles to bite and harm humans. Apart from stag beetles, only a handful of other adult beetles can strongly bite.

The forceful bites delivered by blister beetles and long-horned beetles are also painful for humans. Thus, they must be handled with care.

Are Stag Beetle Bites Poisonous?

Stag beetle bites are painful and will cause problems like bleeding, swelling, redness, and irritation.

But thankfully, the bites are not poisonous and won’t cause any fatal health issues. Moreover, these bites heal themselves in a few hours or a day.

If you have an allergy to insect bites, you might need to consult a medical practitioner. A bite can cause an allergic reaction which could lead to palpitations or even shortness of breath.

What To Do If A Stag Beetle Bites You?

Stag beetle bites are not poisonous. Yes, they can be painful and will cause problems like bleeding and swelling, but they won’t have any fatal effects on the body.

The pain should subside after an hour.

If you get bit, clean the wound with water to stop the bleeding. If the pain persists, please take an analgesic or apply cold compression.

Stag Beetle

How To Get Rid of a Stag Beetle?

Stag beetles ay move close to your home and garden in search of food and warm spots. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep these beetles away:

Remove dead and decaying wood

Stag beetle larvae depend on rotten wood and decaying leaves to fulfill their diets. The female stag beetles prefer to lay eggs in areas filled with such food sources, especially tree stumps of fallen trees.

Therefore, you must run a thorough check in your garden and house to find spots with dead wood, plants, and leaves.

Once you find such spots, clean them properly and get rid of all decaying matter.

Sprinkle soapy water on infected plants

Stag beetles are attracted to infected plants in your yards. If you have such plants in your garden, sprinkle them with soap solution regularly.

You can prepare it at home by mixing some soap, water, and vinegar. Put in on a spraying bottle, and you are good to go.

Use homemade traps

Keep an eye on the areas where these beetles were spotted previously. To prevent them from returning, put a few traps in those areas.

Pitfall traps are great for this. You can make them at home using a plastic cup thin enough to allow you to make tiny holes in the bottom.

Place them near light sources, and many insects, including stag beetles, will fall for the trap.

Stag Beetle

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a stag beetle bite look like?

The stag beetle is usually known for their large mandibles that look similar to the antlers of a stag. These mandibles can be almost as big as the body of the beetle.
There are around 1,200 stag beetle species scattered worldwide, so it depends on which stag beetle has bitten you.
There are three that you should be particularly concerned about: Cottonwood stag beetle, giant stag beetle, and metallifer stag beetles

Can stag beetles hurt humans?

Stag beetles usually do not attack humans, but in rare cases, they can bite.
A stag beetle bite can be intensely painful as they have huge mandibles and strong chewing muscles to break past the skin.
To avoid such bites, you must be careful around these insects. Thankfully these beetles bites are not fatal and poisonous.

Can you touch a stag beetle?

You can touch a stag beetle, but you must be careful around them as they can bite humans as an act of defense.
The mandibles and chewing parts are strong enough to break past the human skin and cause problems like bleeding, irritation, and swelling.
To avoid these bites wear safety gloves while touching them.

What kind of beetles bite humans?

Usually, beetle bites are rare, but you can’t ignore the fact that many species of beetles possess mandibles that can inflict pain through them.
Stag beetles, blister beetles, and Longhorned beetles are some of the kinds that are capable of hurting humans through bites.

Wrap Up

Stag beetles are creatures with one of the most unique body structures and shapes. The large mandibles give them a sturdy and intimidating look.

The fact that the males fight each other to gain mating rights adds to the fear factor revolving around these beetles.

Yes, they can bite, but they are not as aggressive and dangerous as they look. After reading this article, we hope you handle yourself better around these beetles.

Thank you for taking the time to read the article. 

Reader Emails

Being bitten by a stag beetle can be quite painful. Many of our readers have experienced the distress of being bitten by them. 

They have shared their experience with us, both for identification and for advice on how to treat the wound. Please go through some of their emails and learn from the experiences yourself.

Letter 1 – Stag Beetle: Psuedolucanus capreolus

 

Bugman, Any idea what type of beetle this is. I found it crawling across my kitchen floor. It’s a dark brown color with orange/tan legs underneath the body. A nickle is a shown on the attached photo for size comparison. I live in Madison, Wisconsin (south central Wisconsin). Where do they nest? Are they poisonous? Do they come in numbers? Do I need and exterminator? The Stag Beetle photos are beginning to arrive. You have a species from the genus Pseudolucanus, probably P. capreolus, a male that can be identified by his large jaws. The grubs can be found in decaying logs and wood. The adults fly and are attracted to lights, which explains the presence in the kitchen. They do not swarm, but are seasonal, so you may encounter additional specimens. They are not poisonous, and the jaws can pinch, but will rarely break the skin. You do not need an exterminator.

Letter 2 – Mystery Australian Scarab and Stag Beetle

 

Lovely Unknown Bugs from Australia
Hi there,
Firstly I love your website and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time looking for my beasties there, to no avail. I’m not sure that you accept submissions from Australia, but I am hoping that you will be able to help me identify these fellas. I should say, I am in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia and these guys were found in my garden. The orange monster was uncovered whilst digging over some soil for planting, the green guy was just wandering across the grass. Thank you in advance for having a look at my buddies.
Cheers
Jenna



Hi Jenna,
Your beetles are beautiful and the photos are great as well. In the most general sense, the orange on is a Scarab Beetle in the Family Scarabidae. We did a quick web search and cannot exactly identify them but when we have more time, we will try again.


Update from Eric Eaton:
” Well, all I can tell you is that I’m pretty certain the green one is not a scarab, but a stag beetle (something on the order of Neolamprima???). I”m surprised there is not a great website on Australian beetles or something. Maybe subfamily would help? Likely that the spotted one is a flower scarab (Cetoninae). I’ll try digging from work tomorrow. Eric “

Update: (07/18/2007) mystery stag beetle found!!!
I ran into a website selling bugs and they have what looks like the spiecies of green stag beetle you guys at WTB have been looking for. I’ve attatched a picture of the beetle and a link for the site I’ve found it on, it says the beetle is called Neolamprina adolphinae. Sorry I can’t help you with the orange and black spotted beetle
Roger

Letter 3 – Chilean Stag Beetle is Darwin's Beetle

 

Chilean bug with very large mandibles Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 5:03 AM Chilean bug with very large mandibles A friend in Chile took this photo of a bug from his lake house. That’s pretty much all the information I have I’m sorry. Cameron Chile
Chilean Stag Beetle
Chilean Stag Beetle
Hi Cameron, We are quite impressed with this spectacular Stag Beetle. We tried a websearch and believe this is a Chilean Sag Beetle, Chiasignathus granti . You may see a mounted specimen on the God of Insects web site where male specimens like the one in your photo fetch $50 to $75. Another website identifies this species as Darwin’s Beetle. All of the images we were able to locate online were mounted specimens, so we are very proud to perhaps have the only image of a living specimen of a male Chilean Stag Beetle available on the internet.

Letter 4 – Rugose Stag Beetle

 

Rhino Beetle in Oregon? Location: Ashland, Oregon, USA July 8, 2011 12:45 am My daughter found this beetle while we were camping in Southern Oregon (Ashland). The horn made me think of rhino beetles but it’s fairly small. Are there rhino beetles indigenous to Oregon? What species of insect is this? Signature: Dr. Aaron Molen
Rugose Stag Beetle
Dear Dr. Aaron Molen, BugGuide does not have any reports of Rhinoceros Beetles in the subfamily Dynastinae in Oregon, however, there are reports from California.  They also include the disclaimer:  “Range and date information may be incomplete, overinclusive, or just plain wrong.”  This is actually a Rugose Stag Beetle, Sinodendron rugosum, and we identified it on BugGuide and the horn indicates he is a male.

Letter 5 – Chilean Stag Beetle

 

Subject: Beetle from Patagonian rain forest Location: Cahuelmó, Parque Pumalín, Patagonia, Chile March 8, 2014 3:06 pm This very large beetle was found in temperate rain forest at Cahuelmó in the northern part of Parque Pumalín. Can you help putting a name on this species? We were told it’s supposed to be endangered, is that true? Signature: Henriette
Chilean Stag Beetle
Chilean Stag Beetle
Dear Henriette, We are so thrilled to have received your identification request and this excellent photo.  We couldn’t imagine it to be anything other than a major male Stag Beetle in the family Lucanidae.  We quickly located your Stag Beetle on Community Idea Stations where it is identified as Chiasognathus granti Stephens, the Chilean Stag Beetle or Darwin’s Stag Beetle.  The site includes an NPR interview with Dr. Art Evans who states that this is the only species in the genus that stridulates, and that Charles Darwin, in the Descent of Man, described the male’s use of his impressive mandibles to fight other males and defend females.  The Generic Guide to New World Stag Beetles has a map with its very limited range in Patagonia. Thank you very much for the identification! I saw the Darwin’s Stag Beetle on jan 10th this year, but unfortunately the ranger, who found the beetle, killed the bug to bring it home with him (he was a forestry student). I hope there are stille lots of them in the vast Patagonian rain forests… Best regards, Henriette Mvh Henriette Dear Henriette, We don’t want to imagine the worst, but we hope the ranger isn’t using his job to deal in the global insect trade.  

Letter 6 – Two species of Male Stag Beetles

 

Subject: Huge beetle with pinchers Location: Hockessin, DE June 21, 2015 7:03 pm Hi WTB! We found these two lovely specimens on our screen door at about 10pm on a very humid summer night in the woods of northern Delaware. Aren’t they incredible?! We’ve seen a lot, and I mean a lot, of cool bugs since we moved here. But we never expected anything like these guys. The big one is a good 2 inches from head to butt. When they were agitated they spread out their pinchers (mandibles?) like they were ready for a fight. We didn’t bother them long though, and released them back into our yard. So, what are they? Signature: Polly
Two Male Stag Beetles:  Reddish Brown Stag (left) and Dorcus parallelus (right)
Two Male Stag Beetles: Reddish Brown Stag (left) and Dorcus parallelus (right)
Dear Polly, We have been away from the office for a few weeks and we are currently sifting through all the mail that arrived, choosing the best submissions to post.  We are very excited to post your images of two different species of Stag Beetles, both males.  The smaller Stag Beetle which we identified on BugGuide is Dorcus parallelus, and it has no common name.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed in decaying stumps and roots of oak, linden, and maple” and “readily comes to lights.”  This species was not until now represented on our site. 
Dorcus parallelus Stag Beetle
Dorcus parallelus Stag Beetle
The larger individual is a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, and according to BugGuide:  “Eggs laid in rotting wood. Larvae take two years to develop, pupate in nearby soil.”
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle
Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

Letter 7 – Stag Beetle might be Antelope Beetle

 

Subject: Some pics to share! Location: Sunderland UK, NY USA, IN USA July 16, 2017 6:15 pm Hello Bug Peeps! I thought I’d share some really lovely shots I got of some awesome specimens! You are probably the only people who will appreciate them, heh. The first two are spiders but the final one of a beetle was the best shot of all! The first shot is of the absolute largest house spider I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t get over him/her, just amazing! However it was my bff’s flat in Northern England UK that (s)he was spotted (this was in the spring, I’m thinking (s)he was looking for a mate) and bff was not so keen to have such an impressive guest so we relocated Friend just outside the door, where (s)he more than likely crawled right back inside but whatever, at least bff is not a squoosher. The second is a much better photo of a really pretty spider hanging out on my bathroom wall in Indiana USA. I looked it up and it is a spitting spider and spits a mixture of webbing and venom on its victims, so basically what Spiderman does but also poison which I think is very clever. I like the spots on the legs. I keep my fingers crossed that it will catch and eat the stupid fruit flies that keep getting in my garbage- they fly at my eyes and are annoying. The last one is my little friend the Rawrior, some manner of stag beetle or another that was just shuffling along tra la down the sidewalk in upstate New York. Thrilled, as it is to date my one and only sighting of a wild stag beetle, I grabbed my kindle out of my purse and hovered it over the little creature, angling for a good shot. Nervous of the sudden presence of a giant flat rectangular UFO, Rawrior posed spectacularly in this defensive stance, poking its little pinchies toward me and warning me that it didn’t want to be probed, thanks. Can you tell me if it is a boy or a girl beetle? The pinchy bits weren’t massive so I wasn’t sure. Signature: KLeigh
Antelope Beetle
Dear KLeigh, Thanks for your enthusiastic letter.  We believe your Stag Beetle is Dorcus parallelus, commonly called an Antelope Beetle according to BugGuide where it states:  “Larvae feed in decaying stumps and roots of oak, linden, and maple.”  This species does not exhibit some of the extreme sexual dimorphism found in other Stag Beetles, but we believe this is a male.

Letter 8 – Stag Beetle from South Korea

 

Subject:  A giant Dorcus titanus castinicolor!! Geographic location of the bug:  At South Korea, Inchon mountain Date: 10/09/2017 Time: 04:37 AM EDT I found this giant about 3 inch long dorcus titanus castinicolor while hiking. It was a grown male and it was on its back. I found this ferocious creature at about 9:00 at the morning. ( my first time writing ) How you want your letter signed:  In email
Stag Beetle
Thank you so much for sending in your image of a beautiful South Korean Stag Beetle.  Beetlegate has an image of the South Korean subspecies.

Letter 9 – Stag Beetles: Lucanus placidus

 

Subject:  What’s this beetle Geographic location of the bug:  Minnesota Date: 06/08/2018 Time: 09:21 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Can you tell me what these are and why they are borrowing into the ground at my oak tree? There’s a bunch of them! How you want your letter signed:  Brian
Stag Beetles Emerging after Metamorphosis
Dear Brian, We wish you had more clarity in your amazing image of what we believe to be Stag Beetles emerging from the ground after metamorphosis, because we would like to be able to see details in the antennae.  We suspect your Stag Beetles are Lucanus placidus based on an image on The University of Minnesota Yard and Garden News page where it states:  “People have been finding stag beetles in their yards and gardens recently, sometimes in large numbers. Also known as pinching bugs, these beetles typically measure a little more than one inch in size and are reddish brown to dark brown in color. Stag beetles resemble June beetles but have more prominent heads. The mandibles (jaws) of both sexes are also large and conspicuous, especially those of males. Stag beetles have short antennae with conspicuous asymmetrical plates (lobes) at the end of them which they are not able to close together. One of the most common species in Minnesota is Lucanus placidusAll stag beetle larvae feed in dead or decaying wood, such as logs and stumps. Most adults emerge in May or June and feed on sap that exudes from plants. Stag beetles are active at night and are often attracted to lights. They can fly into a yard, land on the ground and remain there until the following morning. Some people have observed stag beetles emerging from the ground. This indicates that there are some old roots or other buried decaying wood where the larvae were feeding and developing.  Although a lot of stag beetles in a yard is annoying, they are harmless to people and property. Do not spray stag beetles, their control isn’t necessary. Just ignore them until they go away on their own.”  Elsewhere on the University of Minnesota site it states:  “Beneficial as a recycler of decaying wood; does not harm people or damage turf or trees.”  
Stag Beetles
Thank you for your response! I appreciate it. 
Brian Norby

Letter 10 – Stag Beetle from Romania

 

Subject:  What is this huge bug Geographic location of the bug:  Dorohoi, Romania Date: 05/20/2019 Time: 07:51 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Very large black beetle like with claws…. scary looking. Interested to know what it is How you want your letter signed:  Leah
Stag Beetle
Dear Leah, The gorgeous male Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus, was immortalized by German artist Albrecht Dürer in 1505 and is pictured on the Getty site.  This is a perfectly harmless species

Authors

    by
  • 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.

  • 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.

17 thoughts on “Stag Beetle Bite: What Should You Do?”

  1. The spotted species is Polystigma punctata (Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae) and the other one is Lamprima aurata (male) or L. latreillei (Lucanidae). Information on both species can be found in my Beetles of Australia book and in relevant papers on my website http://www.calodema.com (use the search feature)

    Best regards, Trevor

    Reply
  2. I recently found one of these in Portland, OR., which has a greatly different climate than Ashland and Northern California. He did seem a bit sluggish, but was alive when I found him. Perhaps the range is as incomplete as they concede?

    Reply
    • In the time that has elapsed since August 2011 when we first published this posting of a Rugose Stag Beetle, there have been additional sightings on BugGuide, increasing the range of the Rugose Stag Beetle to include Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

      Reply
  3. I just had one of these on my window attached alive to my screen I took a picture as best I could , and I live in BC Canada, about 15 minutes from border

    Reply
  4. I had the life scared out of me by one of the giant beetle while in the bathroom at 3am. My hero Ally the cat came to my rescue. She batted it carefully out of the way so I could escape.
    We, Ally and I then caught it and released it to the backyard. Glad to learn that these monster beetle is a gentle giant.

    Reply
  5. I had the life scared out of me by one of the giant beetle while in the bathroom at 3am. My hero Ally the cat came to my rescue. She batted it carefully out of the way so I could escape.
    We, Ally and I then caught it and released it to the backyard. Glad to learn that these monster beetle is a gentle giant.

    Reply
  6. It took me forever to find these posts. Just found one in Hillsboro Oregon. He was amazing looking!! Wish I could add a photo.

    Reply

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