7 things you didn’t know about the stag beetle

Discover fantastic facts about the UK’s largest beetle. 


Stag beetle © levifoto / iStock


1 Empty threats

The males’ intimidating, antler-like mandibles are designed for wrestling rivals rather than biting. The bite of the smaller-jawed females is more painful to human handlers.

2 High-fibre diet

Stag beetle larvae spend five to six years feeding on rotting wood. They leave behind a distinctive network of tunnels and C-shaped chambers.

3 Beetle juice

The adults live for just a few months. Their only sustenance is fruit juice, tree sap and water, which they drink with the aid of a furry, orange tongue.

4 Overground underground

In July, females burrow up to about 30cm into the soil to lay their eggs underground near a source of rotting wood for the larvae to feed on.

5 Picky predators

Magpies, major predators of adult stag beetles, eat only the nutritious, fat-filled abdomens, leaving their victims to wander around, sometimes for days, before they die.

6 Urban legends

Primarily a woodland species in Europe, in the UK most records are from parks and gardens. They have been recorded breeding in growbags, discarded chipboard and horse manure.

7 Palm problem


In the Middle East, stag beetle larvae are serious pests of date palms, killing up to 70 per cent of trees through boring into the roots and stems.