Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)
Fineliner, watercolour, pencil and gouache.
The stag beetle is one of the largest beetles to be found in the UK. Their name, quite rightly, comes from the impressive set of jaw-like mandibles seen on the male beetles. As fierce as they may look, these insects are gentle giants and only use their antlers to fight over territory with other rival males and during courtship. They tend to spend most of their lives underground as larvae until they emerge to find a mate. Their prefered habitat is among hedgerows, gardens, park and woodland areas. Their diet mainly consists of rotten wood during their larvae stage but once adults they rely on fat reserves with the occasional fallen fruit and sap for backup.
As well as being commonly known as stag beetles, they have been referred to as ‘thunder beetles’. Long ago people believed they were capable of summoning thunder and lightning making them very much feared among many communities in Britain.
Sadly, these magnificent beetles are on the decline and are struggling in many parts of Europe, including Britain. Over the years, the selling of green spaces such as woodland areas, removal of rotting wood, urban expansion as well as changing weather conditions have all played a part. Furthermore, they are often crushed under traffic or killed by humans who mistakenly think they are a danger to them.
There are conservation efforts working hard to help protect stag beetles but more needs to be done. If you are interested in supporting stag beetles, there are a number of websites you can donate through such as www.ptes.org and www.wildlifetrusts.org
This is one of a number entomological studies making up my Insectarium collection which aims to explore the fragility of our native insects in the UK and the increasing pressures placed on their ecosystems.
*Giclée prints will be available soon*