Stag Beetle Lifespan: Why Are They So Hard To Come By?

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What is the stag beetle lifespan, and why, despite their ubiquitous presence in America, are they so difficult to spot? Understand from the post below

There are around 1,200 stag beetle species in the world.

30 of them are found in North America, and many more are found in different parts of the UK, Australia, India, and a few Asian countries.

Despite being such a huge family, it is rare to spot them in the wild.

This article shares information on where these beetles live, how long they survive, and what they need for their survival.

Stag Beetle Lifespan
Cottonwood Stag Beetle

Lifecycle of Stag Beetles (Lucanus Cervus)


The cycle starts when the adult males get attracted to pheromones released by the female stag beetles.

Once they locate the female, they try to charm her by displaying their huge mandibles. Stag beetles are the largest beetles in the world, and most of their heft is because of their mandibles.

If there is more than one suitor, they compete to earn mating rights.

Laying Eggs

After mating, the female searches for a suitable spot to lay eggs. The ideal place is an underground spot with plenty of rotting wood nearby.

Healthy females can lay up to 24 eggs in a cycle. It takes around 30 days for the eggs to hatch.

Larval Stage

During the early stages, the stag beetle larvae appear as white grubs. With time, it starts developing an orange tint in its body.

After emerging, the larvae quickly shift to a decaying wooden log or dead tree stump and start tunneling to eat the white rot.

As larvae, they consume a lot of food to build fat reserves, which they will later use as adults to survive. The feeding continues for almost six years before they emerge as adults.

Stag Beetle


After feeding for a long time, they start going into the pupating stage by building a cocoon around themselves.

The cocoon is made up of a mixture of chewed wood and mud. From this stage onwards, you can start identifying the males and the females.

The male cocoon will have a small portion of its mandible pierced out of the pupa.


It takes around 60 days for the pupation period to complete. By the summer, a full-grown adult beetle emerges from the ground.

Adults do not live very long, and their primary raison d’etre is to mate and produce the next set of stag beetles.

In fact, they don’t even eat in the process – they just depend on fat reserves built up earlier.

How Long Do Stag Beetles Live?

Stag beetles can live for anywhere between 3-7 years. They spend nearly six years out of this as larvae.

The adult male barely lives for a few days. A healthy female stag beetle can survive for around ten days.

How Long Do They Live in the Wild?

Adult stag beetle survives for only a few days in the wild. However, the biggest danger is not their health but rather the chance of getting eaten by predators

Many birds, such as carrion crows, amphibians like frogs, lizards, and other small mammals, love to gorge on these beetles.

Also, the lifespan of an adult stag beetle depends on the nutrition it receives as a larva.

Reddish Brown Stag Beetle

How Long Can They Live as Pets?

Stag beetles can survive longer as pets, especially because they stay protected against predators. Plus, they get good nutrition.

Some species of stag beetles can survive longer than others. In fact, rainbow stag beetles can easily live for a year to a year and a half as a pet.

What Do They Eat?

As mentioned earlier, adult stag beetles usually don’t eat anything; they rely on fat storage to survive.

The larvae consume a lot of dead wood, decaying fruits, tree sap, and other decaying plant matter. Deadwood is the biggest food source for these insects.

Where Do Stag Beetles Live?

There is a huge population of stag beetles scattered across the globe. Around 30 different species of these beetles are found in the US.

You can also find them in different regions of the UK, including South London and West London.

The rain forests of Queensland, Australia, are famous for being the home to the rainbow stag beetle.

Earlier, they were endemic to that region, but due to successful breeding, good rainbow stag beetle populations have emerged in Japan.

Stag Beetle

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do these beetles live in captivity?

Different species of stag beetles have different life-span. Usually, most stag beetles live for a few days, and female beetles can live for 8-10 days.
But as pets, they remain safe from predators and stay healthy. This increases their chances of living longer.

What happens if a stag beetle bites you?

If a stag beetle bites, there is a high chance of you facing problems like bleeding, irritation, pain, swelling, and redness.
These beetles have big mandibles, and their mouths have strong muscles to chew. As a result, the bites can easily break past the human skin.

How long do stag beetles live as larvae?

Stag beetles spend a significant fraction of their life cycle as larvae. These beetles can stay in the larval stage for around 3-6 years.
They spend this entire time feeding on rotten wood and getting bigger to survive as healthy adults.

Can you touch a stag beetle?

You can touch a stag beetle, but it is highly risky. These beetle will bite if they feel threatened.
Stag beetle bites can be highly painful and will cause bleeding and other issues like swelling and redness. Wear a pair of safety gloves before touching them.

Should you move stag beetles?

It is wise not to move stag beetles without taking proper precautions, as they can bite.
The bites can be immensely painful. However, thankfully, these insects are not poisonous in nature. Hence there is no danger of any fatal injuries.

Wrap Up

Stag beetles are becoming increasingly rare to spot in the wild. It can take a lot of effort to spot them because their natural habitats are slowly dying away.

Moreover, the adults only live for a few days, so it is harder to spot them. But if you know where these beetles prefer to live, your job gets easier.

We hope the article helps you to figure out if there are stag beetles in your neighborhood and how to spot them.

Thank you for reading!


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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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