Every year I look forward to seeing this lovely insect in the wild they really are the knights of the insect world. I often see freshly emerged stag beetles from May till July, sitting on rotten logs and cut tree stumps when I am out filming. The larvae can live feeding in rotten wood from 5 to 7 years. When a male stag beetle is approached it will raise its head upwards with its large jaws wide open and will follow any movement head-on. It does look very uninviting to pick up but all this aggressive behaviour is mostly bluff. As the large jaws (which are enlarged mandibles) are only used to fight and wrestle with other males which compete for females which usually are watching close by, but I have noticed two males will fight over a suitable habitat, not wanting to share the same tree stump. Stag beetles hey will even fight over food like fallen fruit, even these battles are not fatal, just of strength, the winning male flipping its rival off its feet.
The problem with this is the tree stump sometimes makes a tasty natural table top for predators, such as birds like magpies, Jays, crows and even woodpeckers. Usually, all the birds leave is the head with its mandibles still attached and the odd wing case. I have even found the poor beetles decapitated head with its antennae still moving around for some time afterwards. Cats can also be a problem and a colleague told me how her cat brought a stag beetle into her living room to play with. Stag beetles can also be found along footpaths and roads, which is not the safest of places. Although as a young boy I would collect larvae found in rotten tree stumps, I do not have any stag beetle larvae pictures in my collection, because I am not prepared to destroy a stag beetle habitat, just for the sake of a few pictures. Andy Newman Images©