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

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!

Reader Emails

Stag beetles are common across North America, so it is no surprise that many of our readers have encountered them and have questions about them.

Over the years, we have several conversations about the lifespan, habitat, and eating habits of stag beetles. Go through some of these below.

Letter 1 – Stag Beetle


Dorcus Brevis or Dorcus parallelus??? Hey bugman, I found this small beetle (about half an inch long or so) under a rotting log at the edge of the woods behind our house here in Seymour, Tennessee. I know its a stag beetle in the genus Dorcus, but would love to know which of the two Dorcus species found in the US it is. anyway i hope you enjoy the photo. any help would be appreciated. Thanks again for one of my favorite websites. Michael D. Hi Michael, We would love to be able to provide you with an exact species, but that level of taxonomy is way beyone our capabilities. If Eric Eaton and BugGuide can’t do it, we are not going to be much help. We noticed you have already posted your image to BugGuide, and we hope that you will get some results. BugGuide is the best source for accurate and obscure identifications of North American insects. BugGuide is the serious brother of insect identification websites, and we are just the smart mouthed, brash and sassy sibling. We are rotating your image 90 degrees clockwise since it fits our site better that way.

Letter 2 – Ceruchus Stag Beetle


Awesome website… Hi there! I am so glad I found your website!! A year ago, I found a creepy ugly bug pinching my 6 month old daughter. Tonight, my same daughter (now 21 months, the youngest of 3 girls) was sitting on the potty when the same kind of bug crawled across our bathroom floor. I searched countless websites trying to identify the creature…including Terminex, Orkin, several universities’ entomology sites, etc. None of the sites even came close to the bug we found….until I came across yours. Our nasty little critter is the Ground Beetle. He (she?) is identical to the ones you have listed on your site. Thank you for having such a thorough and interesting site. I’m going to save you in my favorites just incase we need to identify any more little buggers!! Thanks again! Terra J. Ward Hi Terra, We once again turned to Eric Eaton to clarify matters for us. Here is what he had to say: “Wow! Actually, this is a male stag beetle in the genus Ceruchus, assuming it is from North America. Right family for certain. I’d also like to see this posted to, as right now we are getting postings of some of the other smaller Lucanidae, but not this genus. Neat. Eric”

Letter 3 – Pseudolucanus capreolus Stag Beetle


new pics you identified this beetle for me last year and posted pics i’d sent you (beetles 2004). thought i’d send these close ups of the same beetle. enjoy! Alan Thanks Alan, Have you kept this beautiful male Stag Beetle as a pet for the past six months, or are the photos from last year? did NOT keep the stag beetle… …as a pet! i wanted him to live life as it should be – free. i took about a dozen pics, though. i thought you’d like a glamour shot of, “volks – the stag beetle.”

Letter 4 – Rugose Stag Beetle and Earth Boring Scarab


Two More Puzzling Specimens Dear Mr. Marlos? Thank you very much for identifying my previous mystery insect: the Trichiotinous bee-scarab. It was one of several insects which I have yet to ID. If you and your colleagues would be so kind as to have a crack at naming another two specimens of mine, I would be most pleased. The first, found near my home on Vancouver Island is likely a dung beetle but of an unknown genus (to me). The second, from my region as well, has proven to be even more challenging to ID. I am not even certain of it’s family and I hesitate to call it a scarab even though it exhibits several anatomical features which resemble those of such a beetle. (See attached photos for both.) On a final note, might I request the urls of the best sites in your opinion that may aid me in my quests for further insect identification? This may save me from troubling you with more ID requests in the future. Thanks again, Sandy.
Rugose Stag Beetle Bolboceras obesas
Dear Sandy, We always love turning to a real beetle expert, Eric Eaton, with difficult identifications. Here is what he has to say: “Well, as luck would have it, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and both these species are familiar to me. Both are males. Females do not have horns. The top [first] image in your e-mail to me is of a rugose stag beetle, Sinodendron rugosum. They are usually found in rotting logs. The second image is of an earth-boring scarab (family Geotrupidae). The species is Bolboceras obesus. Females dig burrows terminating in cells which they provision with fine humus, which serves as food for their offspring (grubs). Neat insects. I’ve never seen one alive, but they are supposedly common. Thank you for sharing.” Regarding our favorite websites, we recommend Angel Fire and for caterpillars, we like Caterpillars of the Eastern Forests.

Letter 5 – Stag Beetle


What’s this bug?
saw this guy on a website and wanted to know what it was. Picture taken in NY city. Bug spared by birdwatchers from people thinking it was a "dreaded" asian longhorn beetle. Thanks,

Hi Tammy,
This is a Stag Beetle, Pseudolucanus capreolus, a male. They are prized by collectors. Larvae feed on rotting wood. They are native and not a danger to the environment or to you. We don’t understand what you saw on a website?

Letter 6 – German Stag Beetle


I found this beetle in the Forest in Dorsten (Germany). What is this a Animal? Have a nice day.
Sebastian Eger (11 Years old)

Hi Sebastian,
This looks like a female Stag Beetle, probably Lucanus cervus. The male has enormous mandibles that resemble a stag’s antlers, hence the common name. It is supposedly the largest European Beetle. You have a nice day as well.

Letter 7 – Exotic Unknown Stag Beetle


what kind of cyclommatus is this

Sorry, we aren’t really that profient with identifying exotic Asian Stag Beetles, especially when no information is provided.

Letter 8 – Stag Beetle


Any idea how we can find out what this is? Hope you can help’ THANKYOU There were a few of them in the garden on Friday evening after dark – scarily big about 8 cm long and 3 to 4 cm wide. Big reddish clas on the front…….. They have wings and fly in like bombers, land on the lilac tree and then leave again. We had a few last year but didn’t realize just how nasty they were as we never got up close….. Angela Any views expressed in this message are those of the sender. Hi Angela, We couldn’t help but to be amused at your company’s disclaimer. Nasty appearance is definitely the view of the sender and not our view. This magnificent beetle is a male Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus. If you have frequent sitings over a period of years, there must be a good supply of rotting logs and trees nearby to provide a food source for the larvae. There are probably many collectors worldwide who are envious at your population of desireable beetles, both for collections and to raise in captivity.

Letter 9 – European Stag Beetle in Hungary


beetle found in Hungary Hello, Do hope you can help us, we found this huge beetle on the wall of our in house in western Hungary. All dark in colour, and very aggresive. Approx. 3.5 inches in length and quite heavy. Attached is a photo. We have many hardwood trees and dense forestation almost everywhere in this area. Look forward to hearing from you, many thanks, Pam Blackhall Hi Pam, Though fierce looking, the European Stag Beetle, Lucanus cervus, is quite harmless. There is a Biodiversity Plan in Sussex posted online that states: “Here in Great Britain, as early as 1941 it was realised that this enigmatic insect held a restricted and discontinuous range, and explanations were being sought. Since that time it has been consistently been listed as a national rarity, although its status as a rarity has been questioned recently. The stag beetle’s distribution in the UK is concentrated in the south-east.” The plan also indicates: “L. cervus is widespread on the continent, and in most countries this insect is protected by statute. However, the beetle is under no immediate threat on the European mainland, although the stag beetle has almost disappeared from a few northern states.”

Letter 10 – Lesser Stag Beetle from England


Unknown black beetle Dear Bugman, Firstly, thanks for your excellent site! It helped me identify a cockchafer that flew into my lounge a few months ago. Now I’m hoping you can help me with a little black beetle I recently found sitting in the middle of my kitchen. I’ve looked at all the pictures on your site and can’t find anything that quite matches this guy. I thought he might be either a Bess beetle or a bark-gnawing beetle, but he doesn’t seem to quite match closely enough. Maybe some kind of scarab? Can you help please? (By the way, I live in London, England.) Many thanks, Claire Hi Claire, We quickly identified your Lesser Stag Beetle, Dorcus parallelopipedus, on an English Nature website. Since they fly and are attracted to lights, that would probably explain its presence in your kitchen.

Letter 11 – Male Stag Beetle


Subject: What’s this? Location: Midwest July 14, 2016 7:18 pm Found this bug dead on my front porch wondering what is this? Signature: Any
Male Stag Beetle
Male Stag Beetle
Dear Any, This is a male Stag Beetle, probably a Reddish Brown Stag Beetle, Lucanus capreolus.

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