© Stuart M Bennett 2000
Lucanus cervus
(The Stag Beetle)

This species is named for the huge jaws (antlers) of the male, which are used to fight rival males in the breeding seasons. Females are sometimes almost black. Antennae, as in all members of the family, are elbowed and have small flaps at the end, but the flaps cannot be brought together to form a club. This animal flies well usually in the evening.

Male Stag Beetles can grow to more than 2.5 inches and are the longest beetle found in Britain but are usually restricted to south-east England. Males have very large antler-like jaws which give them a fierce appearance. The purpose of the antlers is obscure. They cannot be used for feeding as they would hold the food too far from the mouth, and in any case adults don't normally feed. They can't inflict a painful bite as the jaw muscles are too weak, but their intimidating appearance is probably a good deterrent against enemies, and they could even be attractive to the females. Stag beetles do battle for the attentions of the females and for territory, but this is mainly pushing and shoving with the stronger one winning, but neither is usually hurt.

Mating is usually a precarious affair, especially with all that armour:

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