Look out for stag beetles
AS THE DAYS GET LONGER AND THE WEATHER WARMER, KEEP AN EYE OUT IN LEAFY GARDENS or at the edge of woodland areas for Britain’s biggest beetle. The stag beetle (from the Lucanidae family) may look rather fearsome, but behind its monstrous mandibles lies one of our most interesting insects. After spending three to seven years underground as larvae, adults emerge for six short weeks in order to reproduce. The males enjoy a spell of sunbathing to gather strength, then patrol the same area repeatedly in search of a mate. Sadly, stag beetles are now categorised as ‘nationally scarce’ due to significant habitat loss, with the majority of the population being limited to the south of England. Gardeners can help, however, by drilling holes in a bucket, filling it with wood chippings and burying it in flowerbeds to create an artificial nesting site. Visit ptes.org (People’s Trust for Endangered Species) for more information.