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Stag Beetles Lucanus cervus Mating Behaviour

When stag beetles emerge all they want to do is to mate. At this time the males are often seen flying in search for the females, mostly in the evenings.
Sometimes a great many males can be found around just one female, usually at the beginning of the flying season, and then spontaneous fights will occur. They even atempt to mate with dead females.
Over the years, I've been very lucky to have observed this type of behaviour, several times. See links above. Below I'm sharing more pictures with you.

Below each picture is the author's name, location, date (year:month:day) and time.


Stag beetles are often found mating on the ground. Note the way that the male encloses the female with its antlers, and because in this case he is so big they are nearly touching the ground. Return to the top
Stag beetles found mating hanging down on a flimsy plant. Stag beetles are rather light, the combined weight of this couple is probably around 6 grams. They can cling to all kinds of surfaces with their forked feet, in fact they are quite agile.

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:14 22:09 BST

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Below we have got a huge male on the top of a mating couple, on a fence - a precarious situation, see next photo.

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:09 21:54 BST

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They all fell down. The curious thing was that about 20 minutes later this trio was photographed in the next garden, the female dragging the males behind...
They had gone under the gap in the fence!

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:09 22:02 BST

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Four days later on the house wall of the mentioned garden there were many males chasing a single female. How many can you count crawling under the winter jasmine?
Four is the answer, three males and a leading female. See next picture for what happened soon afterwards.

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:13 22:05:10 BST

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Now a male is lifting in the air the mating pair.

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:13 22:07:52 BST

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The competition seems to have stopped and we have now only one male and one female, mating facing upside down.

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:13 22:08:16 BST

In fact, I can tell you that this didn't last long... It is all in a video, visit this page to see it.


Why so many excited beetles in this area, first on a fence then on a house wall?
Well, we now think that the females were very interested in a couple freshly cut stumps. A couple of laburnum Laburnum anagyroides trees were cut the previous autumn. These fights happened only that year, though.
Over the years, I have observed that stag beetles at the beginning of the season congregate around either freshly cut stumps, or established nests. That is were the action is!
In order to see this type of behaviour one has to be at the right place at the right time. Good luck!

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| Main | Mating quiz | Stag Night in Colchester | Nuptial flight | Mate-guarding behaviour in stag beetles |

http://maria.fremlin.de/stagbeetles/photos_lc_mt.html