Stag beetles (Lucanus cervus) are Britain’s largest terrestrial beetle, named because the male’s huge jaw-like mandibles look just like a stag’s antlers. Historically, stag beetles have been recorded throughout much of Western Europe, though in many countries they are now thought to be very rare or even extinct. Read more about their current UK status and distribution. They spend about five years as white grubs underground and emerge as fully grown adult insects in spring. They are quite harmless – although they can give you quite a shock if they bump into you while flying around on summer evenings looking for a mate.
For more information on stag beetles please take a look at our stag beetle facts and ID guides.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have found an adult stag beetle – what do I do now?
Enjoy observing such a magnificent beetle. Leave it where it is (unless it is in immediate danger of being run over or trodden on) and then record your sighting. If you do have to move a stag beetle for its own safety, then please move it as short a distance as possible (into a nearby hedge or plant for example).
What do I do if I dig up a stag beetle larva?
If you can, put it back exactly where you found it. Or the next best thing is to re-bury the larva in a safe shady place in your garden with as much of the original rotting wood as possible.
How do I know if it is a stag beetle larva?
Please see our beetle larvae guide.
How can you tell the difference between a male and a female stag beetle?
Males have the characteristic large antlers (mandibles) which can be the same size as their body (sometimes bigger) whereas females are smaller and have smaller mandibles. For more information please see our stag beetle fact sheet.
I have found larvae in my compost heap what should I do?
Any larvae found in a compost heap will usually be rose chafers, as stag beetles tend to live underground in rotting wood. You can leave the larvae where they are as they are beneficial composters.
Will a stag beetle bite me?
A male stag beetle won’t bite you and although a female is able to give a little nip, she will only be able to do this if you are holding her in your hands. If you leave her alone she will leave you alone. Stag beetles are not poisonous.
How can I make my garden suitable for stag beetles?
Stag beetles need decaying wood that is underneath the soil. Your garden may already be ideal for stag beetles with plenty of rotting wood (even wood chip and old fence posts can provide homes for stag beetles!) If not you could make a log pile as shown here.
There are stag beetles on an area of land I know is going to be developed – what can I do?
Please take a look at page 4 of our fact sheet. The stag beetle is a species of conservation concern. Its presence will not stop a development but there must be a reasonable survey and mitigation measures put in place if development goes ahead.
Read more about our stag beetle work and how you can help them by clicking on a option in the left hand menu.