Author Janyis Watson
I found myself reciting the A.A. Milne poem, Forgiven, to myself the other evening. Having enjoyed it as a child, I now find myself questioning the ‘happy’ ending. You may remember this tale of Alexander, a much loved beetle who is kept in a matchbox by a young lad until accidently freed by Nanny. She is forgiven for this crime once Alexander has been recaptured and returned to his box.
This train of thought was prompted by a newspaper article about two women who found an extraordinary beetle. Kindness and curiosity led them to a vet for identification and by the time they discovered that they had indeed found one of our most impressive beetles, an adult male stag beetle, they had grown rather fond of him. Fearing his chances in the wild, he was duly christened and settled in to a nice new tank.
- Stag beetles are typically found in hedgerows, the edge of woodland, parks and gardens
- Female stag beetles lay their eggs in dead wood
- It takes three to seven years to transform from a grub to an adult
- The adult emerges from its cocoon in autumn and then spends the winter in the soil before coming above ground in May to find a mate
- Most will have died by the end of August
- The key concern for this species is the lack of rotting dead wood available
Whilst observing wildlife in captivity can be enthralling and educational, we should mindful not to ‘kill with kindness’. The adult male stag beetle can grow to an impressive 7cm in length and sports huge antler shaped jaws (clearly a matchbox was not an option!). However, his raison d’être at this stage of life is to find a female and mate – an impossibility in solitary confinement.
Should you come across a beetle in need of a helping hand or just want to have a closer look, please, please spare a thought for the next generation and release it as soon as possible in a suitable place close to where you found it.
Did you know?
The Latin name for this species is Lucanus cervus but it is also known as stag beetle, horse pincher, thunder beetle and oak ox.
Have you seen a stag beetle? Let us know here