Between June and July, wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is asking people in the UK to record sightings of stag beetles on six summer evenings, as part of an ongoing European study into these endangered beetles.
Taking part in the European Stag Beetle Monitoring Network couldn’t be easier: volunteers need to walk 500m, six times between June and July on warm, summer evenings, counting and recording stag beetles. So whether you’re on your evening dog walk, a post-work jog, popping to the shop or walking to your local pub, you can help!
Stag beetles are Britain’s largest land beetle, with males reaching up to 7.5 cm in size. They are also one of the most spectacular looking insects, with a males’ huge mandibles (antler-like jaws) making them easy to spot. Despite their appearance, stag beetles are harmless if left alone, and from mid-to-late-May are more likely to be seen as warmer evenings draw them above ground to find a mate and reproduce.
Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at PTES, explains: “Loss of habitat and lack of dead or decaying wood are just two of the reasons why stag beetles need our help. Stag beetles are completely reliant on dead wood (either partially or completely buried) and are part of the process of recycling nutrients back into the soil, making them a very important part of the ecosystem. They mainly live in Britain’s gardens, parks, woodland edges and traditional orchards, and were once widespread throughout Europe. We hope that by taking part in this European survey, PTES’ annual Great Stag Hunt, and by making gardens stag beetle friendly, the public can help reverse the decline of this iconic insect.”
The European Stag Beetle Monitoring Network, set up by the Research Institute for Nature and Forest and co-funded by PTES, comprises partner institutes and universities from 13 European countries from Germany and Greece, to the UK and Ukraine. The network aims to assess population levels across Europe, monitoring the stag beetle’s full range.