European Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus

Scientific Name: Lucanus cervus (Lucanidae).

English Name: European Stag Beetle (Stag Beetle family).

French Name: Le Lucane cerf-volant (='the flying stag lucane' or 'kite') (males); la Grande biche (='the big hind') (females).

5 Key Characters:
  • males have massive jaws which look like antlers.
  • mahogany brown to black. 
  • often observed flying, which it does powerfully, but in a rather alarming out of control sort of fashion, hanging vertically in the air.
  • middle tibia has 3 small teeth.
  • size variable (35 - 95 mm) but tends to be on the larger end of the range in this area.

Lookalikes: Females could be mistaken for Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelopipedus, but they are much larger and usually browner.

Habitat: Deciduous forests. Larvae underground in decaying tree stumps and posts, especially oak. Pupates underground.

Adult Active Period: May-June-July-August.

Status: Widespread, but like all big beetles with lifespans that include several years as a larva in dead wood, they are becoming uncommon. The dead wood they require is often removed and destroyed rather than left to rot in situ. Protected.

Further Reading: Maria Fremlin has been involved in researching these impressive beetles for some years now and has an excellent website about them.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

Female in the Forest of Loches.

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