6 things you didn’t know about the stag beetle

Discover fantastic facts about the UK’s largest beetle. 

stagbeetle_levifoto_iStock_623-6e47ac5

Stag beetle. © levifoto/iStock

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1

Do stag beetles bite?

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.

Male stag beetles wrestling and fighting
Two male stag beetles wrestling. © evgenymelnikov/Getty
2

What do stag beetles eat?

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

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.

3

Where do stag beetles lay their eggs?

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.

4

Do stag beetles have any 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.

Stag beetle on branch
Stag beetle on branch. © Alex Brenko/Getty
5

Can you get stag beetles in your garden?

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.

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6

Do stag beetles cause any problems?

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.

Want to see the UK’s most impressive beetle for yourself?

Then check out our guide on the best places to find them:

Where to see stag beetles in the UK

Photo © Antoninapotapenko/Getty

Young boy holding a stag beetle