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Help save London’s stunning stag beetles

Peckham stag beetles © Simon de GlanvillePeckham stag beetles © Simon de Glanville

The stag beetle is Britain’s largest land beetle, almost 8cm in length, and is easily recognised by the male’s distinctive antler-shaped jaws.

Although the male beetles look fiercesome they are harmless to us. They use their massive jaws to wrestle with other males when looking for a mate.

Despite stag beetles being in steep decline across Europe, London remains a hotspot. The Trust is asking Londoners to report their sightings to help researchers map their whereabouts and numbers.

Stag beetles have been recorded in most London boroughs, but are more common in south and west London, from Bexley, Lewisham and Southwark to Wimbledon, Richmond and Uxbridge.

Three sites – Epping Forest, Richmond Park, and Wimbledon and Putney Commons – are European Special Areas for Conservation for stag beetles. Researchers still don’t know why there have been relatively fewer sightings across north and east London. 

Spotted a stag beetle in London?

 

May is usually the start of the ‘stag beetle season’, which lasts until late July. The males fly clumsily with a faint clattering whirr, and are most likely to be seen on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk.

Please report any sightings of stag beetles, or of the related lesser stag beetle, via London's environmental records centre; Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC (GiGL).

Stag beetle sightings in London over the past 30 years

 

The above map only shows where stag beetles have been recorded in London, and may not present an accurate representation of where they live, because not all sightings are recorded. Our aim is to create a more accurate map by encouraging more people to record their stag beetle sightings.

 

How you can help London's stag beetles

As well as reporting your sightings of stag beetles there's lots you can do to help them, especially if you have access to a garden.

Follow stag beetle Sam on Twitter

Stag beetle fans can follow Stag beetle Sam on Twitter.

 

Share your stag beetle pictures and videos

We would love to see your photographs or videos of stag beetles. If you are lucky enough to get some pictures, please contact our communications officer James Cracknell at press@wildlondon.org.uk

We would like to be able to share any pictures or video you send us, so please let us know who to credit. If you would prefer that we do not share your pictures or video, just let us know. 

 

How to spot a stag beetle

  • Male stag beetleStag beetles tend to be between 5cm and 8cm long;
  • Male stag beetles have very large, antler-shaped jaws;
  • Males are often seen flying on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk;
  • Female stag beetles lack the males' antlers and are much more likely to be spotted on the ground. Their jaws are smaller than the males', but are more powerful;
  • Adult stag beetles emerge from the soil beneath logs or tree stumps from mid-May til late July;
  • You are most likely to find a stag beetle near or on dead wood. Stag beetles spend most of their lives as larvae (grubs) within dead wood such as tree stumps and logs, where they spend 4-7 years slowly growing in size.

More stag beetle facts

  • Stag beetles may be inadvertently destroyed in the mistaken belief they are pests, and in urban areas traffic, feet, cats and other predators can also have a negative impact;
  • The decline in stag beetle numbers is attributed to the tidying up of parks, gardens and greenspaces and the removal of tree stumps and dead wood. Without dead wood the beetles have nowhere for their larvae to grow. The beetles play an important role in the cycle of decay; eating and breaking down dead wood so that it nourishes the soil;
  • In 2016 Seb Dance MEP became a champion of the stag beetle as part of the Species Champion initiative, promoting the conservation of species of European importance, in partnership with London Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). 

If you have seen a stag beetle outside London, you can report your sighting via the PTES website. 

Stag beetle by Margaret HollandStag beetle on birch logLesser stag beetle by Margaret Holland

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