Stag Beetles. I remember them being all over the place in the summers of my childhood in the 60s but now I haven’t seen one for years. They are in a lot of trouble.
They spend several years as grubs in rotting wood and these grubs are large – up to 11cm. Slightly horrifying.
They then become an adult beetles which clamber their way up through the soil to the surface.
The adults live for a short time then mate and die, the female laying eggs first. The male has large mandibles that look like deers antlers and that he uses for courtship displays and wrestling with other males. They are unmistakable:
One of my favourite charities, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species, is fighting to save the Stag Beetles from extinction in the UK and suggests that a good project for our gardens would be to build a Stag Beetle wood stack:
The logs are dug one or two feet down into the ground to keep them moist and, over time, will start to rot at the bottom and provide a good place for all sorts of insects grubs including Stag Beetles hopefully. It doesn’t need to be this large, in smaller gardens this stack could actually be just a single log dug into the ground.
We want to do this in the meadows and today a tree surgeon that we have used in the past brought us round some lengths of Sycamore (the wood needs to be from a broad leaved deciduous tree).
As you can see, its very foggy and wintery out there today and has been for several days. Here is the new pond for example:
So we decided not to start digging these logs into the rock solid soil today but leave this project for another more favourable time.
On this freezing January day, it is hard to imagine Stag beetles flying on a warm June dusk but maybe this is what we will have here in a few years if we can provide them with some lovely rotting wood as a result of this project.