Australia has some of the world’s most beautiful and colourful stag beetles.
About 1400 species of stag beetle (family Lucanidae) have so far been scientifically described and named worldwide. Of these, 95 occur in Australia, including some of the most spectacular species. Many, however, lead cryptic lives. Their grub-like larvae chew away quietly in or under fungus-riddled dead logs on forest floors, where they pupate and eventually turn into attractive adults. These often stay hidden under the logs, males venturing out in the open only when looking for mates. The adults of many species can’t fly and don’t eat, surviving on reserves built up during their larval lives, which may be just enough to see them through until they mate. But not all stag beetles’ lives are the same. Some, including quite a few pictured here, can fly after they emerge as adults and feed on ripe, soft fruit, the oozing sap of wounded trees or nectar of some flowers.
24mm Actual size
Some stag beetles are good, albeit slow, flyers, helped by a wingspan that’s slightly longer than their body length.