Largest Beetle In UK, Just Above Your Head

June 5th, 2011 by Ray Burman Leave a reply »

Have you ever heard something buzzing over your head in a late spring or summers night.  And then looked up and had the fright of your life.  You were privileged to witness the biggest beetle you have ever seen.

Well that was most probably a Stag Beetle

You don’t see them all that often now a days, as they have been in decline for years now.  They were once widespread in Kent, which is in the Southeast of England.  In fact Kent was a stronghold for Stag Beetles for most of Europe.

However if your lucky (or unlucky depending on your dispersion) you may see one flying by or trying to get though a closed window attracted to the light.  This is where quite a few of them come a cropper.  Once they hit the window and fall to the ground, many are killed by a large stamp of the foot.

Young Stag Beetle

They spend a large part of  there lives in the pupae stage in a rotten tree stump.  The Stag Beetle grub is very big and resembles a large maggot, but it unlikely you will ever see one unless you break open an old stump.

Jousting male stag beetle

The males do look very formidable with there large mandibles (they can give you a little nip)  This is where they get there name from as these mandibles look like the antlers of a stag deer.  Just like the stag, these are used for jousting with another male, but rarely do they injure each other to badly.

So please don’t tread on them, they really are harmless, and do a good job of breaking down fallen trees and old stumps.

Storms can create a population resurgence

Stag beetles benefit from a good storm that will bring down trees.  Unfortunately we have got into the habit of cutting up every fallen tree for firewood, which leaves limited habitat for this beetle to produce in.  I think the famous 1987 storm in the UK helped the population somewhat.


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