Giant Stag Beetle
Lucanus elaphus


"After the same fashion the stag-beetle comes from grubs that live in dry wood: at first the grub is motionless, but after a while the shell bursts and the stag-beetle issues forth."


The Giant Stag Beetle is found in wooded areas of the eastern United States. There are over 1200 species of Stag Beetle in the world. The beetle was given its name due to its large mandibles which resemble the horns of a male deer. These mandibles can be as long as the body of the beetle itself. It is reddish brown in color and ranges from about two to three inches in length. The mandibles of the male are used only in battle with other males for mating rights. If they are flipped on their back then they have a hard time turning back over. Also, the male's head is wider than its prothorax, unlike the female, whose head is much narrower than the thorax.
The adult Stag Beetle feeds only on liquid, mainly plant juices and aphid honeydew. The larvae, called grubs, eat wet, decaying wood from stumps and old logs. Eggs are laid and larvae are hatched in the decaying wood. The young emerge between July and August and live about two years.

The male Stag Beetle uses the antler-like pincers only when defending his
territory from other males

The stag beetle is a globally threatened species, protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. Its distribution has contracted in the last 40 years, although it is still fairly common in a number of ‘hotspots’ such as the national forest of south Alabama and western Florida.


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