The London Wildlife Trust invites Londoners to join its ‘stag do’ to celebrate this year’s stag beetle season:
Spring heralds the start of the stag beetle season – when Britain’s biggest land beetles wake and emerge from tree stumps and logs across the capital. Despite stag beetles being globally endangered and extinct across much of Britain, the capital remains a hotspot, and London Wildlife Trust is asking people to report their sightings and help researchers map their whereabouts.
Male stag beetles sport ferocious looking but harmless mandibles – the ‘antlers’ – which look as if they could give a serious pinch. In fact, they use these specially adapted mouthparts to wrestle other males, fighting for female attention. Almost 8cm in length and large enough to fill an adult’s palm, the males seem to prefer warm, sultry evenings an hour or two before dusk and were once known as thunder beetles, as they could be seen flying before storms. The females lack the large antlers and to stick to the ground, waiting for the males to fly to
The decline in stag beetle numbers is attributed in part to the tidying up of parks, gardens and greenspaces
and the removal of tree stumps and dead wood, without which the beetles have nowhere for their larvae to grow. They may also be destroyed in the mistaken belief they are pests. Many London parks now deliberately leave tree stumps and large logs in place, providing a home for stag beetles and other wildlife.
While stag beetles have been recorded in most London boroughs, they appear to be found mainly across south
London, with pockets in west London and around Epping Forest. Last year, London Wildlife Trust received nearly 1,000 reports of stag beetles across the capital and is again asking Londoners to report their sightings. There are no recent records from Tower Hamlets, but there is no reason why there should not be stag beetles in the borough, so please keep an eye out and report any sightings.
Mathew Frith, Director of Conservation at London Wildlife Trust, said: “The stag beetle is a plucky London survivor and shows how nature and wildlife continues to live alongside us, even in the midst of a huge city. Most people are amazed when they first see one of these stunning, super-sized beetles, especially when they realise they are harmless to us and our homes. If you do see one, please visit our website and let us know. By understanding where they live in London we will be able to ensure their survival.”
If you think you’ve seen a stag beetle, or to find out more, visit the London Wildlife Trust’s website.
Header photo by Simon de Glanville