Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lesser stag beetle, Dorcus parallelipipedus

The female lesser stag beetle shown above appeared in our bedroom the other night (the smaller mandibles and two bumps on the forehead distinguish it from the male). I think it probably exited from a log of dead birch wood I had brought home earlier in the day as this species spends its early stages in such habitats.

The lesser stag beetle turns up from time to time in our part of East Sussex but there are no authenticated records of Lucanus cervus, the stag beetle proper. This is a bit of a mystery as this is a heavily wooded area with plenty of suitable habitat and the species seems common enough in surrounding areas. I often thinks that gaps of this kind occur because, at some time in the past, the species has been locally wiped out by a predator, parasite or disease. Sometimes, of course, they come back again, like the hornet that appeared widely in East Sussex (or reappeared) about four of five years ago and now seems perfectly happy.

Male lesser stag beetles have bigger 'antlers' that the females, but nowhere near the size of the males of their larger relative. Anyway, our lesser stag beetle, after posing for her photograph, was released into the garden.

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