Westhampnett, 22 May 2012
I have always been fascinated by the world of beetles. Of the 4300 or so British species (approximately 3000 in Sussex), the male Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) surely stands as the most impressive and most imposing in the native fauna. Last night, whilst walking along the northern perimeter of Westhampnett Gravel pit, I came across a beautiful 6.5cm, 4gm male (pictured below).
L. cervus is Britain’s largest terrestrial beetle. Spending at least five years as large white grubs underground in the root-stocks of deciduous tree stumps, they emerge as fully-grown adult insects in the spring when they may be seen flying on warm evenings at dusk. The adult beetle cannot eat solids; their enlarged mandibles being totally useless for eating. They do however imbibe fluids and it is believed they will take sustenance from sweet juicy fruits and fermenting sap runs. The adult beetles have enough fat reserves to keep them going during the short period they spend above ground; these reserves being accumulated by their larvae during the final stage of their long life underground. Today it has become rare in many parts of its range but is still locally common in southern England.
Despite its appearance it is harmless to man ...