Save the stag beetle!

One of Britain’s most spectacular insects is in decline – and there’s something you can do to help it

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The stag beetle, if you have never seen one, is huge – Britain’s biggest land insect.

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The male, anyway; it measures up to 7.5cm or 3in (including those huge horns, or mandibles).

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Don’t let those massive mandibles freak you out. <strong>Male stag beetles can’t bite.</strong> Picture: Getty

Stag beetles are awesome things to spot – look out for them in gardens, parks, woodland edges, hedgerows and traditional orchards.

But these days they are harder to find because they are officially endangered.

“Loss of habitat and lack of dead or decaying wood are just two of the reasons why stag beetles need our help,” according to Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at wildlife charity the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).Stag beetles are completely reliant on dead wood, either partially or completely buried.”

Rotting wood is vital to stag beetles because the lay their eggs in or near it, for the larvae to feed on.

And there’s just less rotting wood around than there used to be.

So how can you help?

You can do two things to give these amazing creatures a better chance, according to PTES.

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We’re going on a beetle hunt… picture: Getty
1 Go stag-beetle spotting

The scientists need to know more about stag beetle numbers. So PTES is asking you to go out on six warm evenings in June and July, walk at least 500m, and report any stag beetle sightings. The information will help build a clearer picture of the plight of the species. To take part, visit www.stagbeetlemonitoring.org.

2 Make your garden stag-beetle friendly
Second Nature Gardens, 1984, des. Anthony Cox, Chris Gutteridge & Jon Owens. Log pile with ferns

• Make a log pile Sounds simple? It is. But these days many gardeners have tidied up all the scruffy bits that the wildlife tends to love. (Log piles are also great habitat for other invertebrates and hedgehogs).

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Half-buried logs like this can be arranged to look good. As they decay, they will provide some tucker for growing stag beetle larvae. Picture: PTES

Leave dead wood in your garden. Instead of tearing out old stumps and tidying up dead wood, leave them alone. They will provide food and shelter for stag beetles and their larvae.

Think stag! Check your lawn for stag beetles before mowing, urges the PTES. If you see a dead-looking beetle in water, take it out, as it may still be alive. If you have a pond or water feature, make a simple ramp into the so that any stag beetles that tumble in have a chance of hauling themselves out again.

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Magpies and other large scavengers will polish off stag beetles if they find them. Picture: Getty

PTES even suggesting making the effort to scare away magpies before they feast on the beetles.

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Cats love to chase insects – including stag beetles. Picture: Getty

And finally – keeping keep your own pets indoors during warm evenings when stag beetles are flying.

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The female is much smaller and has tiny mandibles in comparison. They can give you a nasty nip, but you’ll live. Picture: Getty

Find out more…

…from the people’s Trust for Endangered Species.