Can you imagine paying $89,000 for a tiny insect? Well, that is the price of the stag beetle, a rather unique and very rare insect. This tiny insect is the most rare and strange species in the world. Unlike other insects, the stag beetle has red blood mandibles and protruding antlers hanging on the back of the head.
The stag beetle belongs to the family of Lucanidae, consisting of 1200 classes of insects. In the same time, the beetle is one of the longest insects, ranging between 2 and 3 inches in length.
The stag beetle has shiny black head and thorax, while his wing case is chestnut brown. There is also a difference between male and female species. Male beetles have huge anglers. Some would say they are over-sized mandibles, which are used for courtship display and for wrestling with other male beetles.
During the summer, male beetles fly at dusk looking for a mate. They grow between 35mm and 75mm in length. On the other side, female beetles grow between 30 and 50mm in length, and they have smaller mandibles. Female insects stay on the ground, looking for place to lay their eggs.
Some people often mistake the stag beetle with the lesser stag beetle, but the latter have black all over with matt wing cases. On the other hand, as we mentioned, the stag beetle has brown wing cases.
Another difference between male and female stag beetles is the mouth. Females have smaller mouthparts, but they are stronger than males.
Stag beetles have mandibles, but they do not use them for biting. Instead, males use them for intimidating and wrestling with other male rivals. You would be surprised, but the bite of the smaller-jawed female is actually more painful.
Stag beetle larvae feed on rotting wood. They leave behind a distinctive network of tunnels and chambers. Adults live for just a few months. They feed on fruit juice, tree sap, and water, which they drink using their orange and furry tongue.
Adult stag beetles cannot feed on solid wood. They rely on their fat reserves built during the larvae period.
Stag beetles spend most of their live underground. Why? Because most of their life cycle is being a larva. They can spend anywhere between three and seven years, developing from a larvae to an adult stag beetle. The time depends on the weather.
Cold weather is not suitable for stag beetles, as it can extend the larvae process. Once they grow, they leave the rotting wood and build a large cocoon in the soul. There, they metamorphose into an adult, and spend the winter in the soil. Adult beetles emerge from mid-May onwards. By the end of August, they die.
During their adult life, males spend the days sunning themselves, while at night, they fly and look for a mate. This is the time you can easily spot stag beetles. Females burrow their eggs into the soil in July.
We mentioned that they can bite, but they are not dangerous. Nor, they are poisonous. Their huge jaws may look scary, but they rarely bite. Still, we recommend avoiding touching stag beetles. Pick them up only if they are in danger of being squashed.
One of the reasons why stag beetles are so expensive, although you cannot buy them, is their rarity. They are classed as a protected species. Loss of woodland habitat, and removing rotting wood from the garden means less and less natural habitat for them.
You can help stag beetles by making a small log pile in your garden.