Saturday, 28 July 2018

Lesser Stag Beetle

When I was a kid, growing up in metropolitan Essex, Greater and Lesser Stag Beetles were a familiar sight in the Summer. I really enjoyed watching the male Greaters tussling together with their antlers and for several years I kept both species in aquaria. Despite being told by my primary teacher that adult Stag Beetles only live for a few days after emerging from their pupae, I kept Greaters for many months. They were easy to feed - I just dipped their little furry, forked tongues into sugar solution in a milk bottle cap: they lapped it up!

Since moving to Norfolk in 1972, I have never seen either species in the wild, although when I was Head of Environmental Sciences at Hellesdon High School on a single occasion a pupil brought in an antlered male he'd found down by Hellesdon Mill. I know that Greaters are virtually unknown from Norfolk, but Lessers are allegedly quite common: strange, then, that I've never come across one.

I happened to mention this to old friend and top natural historian Mike 'Red' O'Hara, who informed me that Lesser Stag Beetles are not uncommon in his back garden! Today he phoned to tell me he'd kept one in the fridge for me (in a specimen bottle!) so I popped over to see it. Red kindly let me take it home to release in our garden, where I took the following photos!



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