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Stag Beetle


Summary: Stag beetles, also known as staghorn beetles, are relatively harmless and are easy to handle. The stag beetle's gigantic jaws are their most distinguishing characteristic.

No, it is not called the Stag beetle because it spends its Saturday nights alone, but rather because of the antlers found on their heads. Male Stag beetles use these antlers to fight other males when attractive female stag beetles are nearby. Their antlers are relatively harmless. However, the female stag beetles' antlers are considerably smaller, but sharper and therefore can make predators feel a sharp prick. You should be grateful that your mother-in-law does not have this capability.

Two types of stag beetles are the common stag beetle, also known as the pinching bug, and the elephant beetle, which is also known as the giant stag beetle. The male beetles have an enormous jaw that can be half as long as

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the stag beetle itself. It's that jaw that makes us jump back when we come upon one of these babies. The jaws of the stag beetle are large and branching. When it feels that its environment is threatening, the stag beetle leans back on its hind legs and opens its jaws very wide. This move helps protect the stag beetle from lizards, birds, toads, snakes, centipedes, raccoons, skunks, and weasels. However, humans should not be afraid of handling a stag beetle because they will only feel a slight pinch if bitten by one.

Like the scarab beetle, the stag beetle has wings that have a covering. When a beetle is preparing to fly, it must remove its wings from the cover, delaying its takeoff and giving it less time to fly away from predators. Hence, the big, bad jaws.

The adult stag beetle builds its habitat in decaying wood, logs, or stumps. It eats soft water based substances like mellons or sweet juices.

The female stag beetle lays its larvae in rotting wood, especially if the wood is moist. The larvae continue to grow there. After the larvae hatch, they burrow their way into the wood for food. Because they help decompose rotting wood and trees, stag beetle larvae are helpful to the environment and are typically not considered pests. However, the larvae also eat roots, so they could cause damage to any plants you have growing in your yard.

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If you see stag beetles in your yard, look around for their larvae. Keep in mind that male and female adult stag beetles do not live very long after the females have laid eggs, so if you wish to relocate the beetles it is more important to deal with moving the larvae rather than the adults. Larvae usually live between three to five years before becoming adult stag beetles. Also keep in mind that it is good news if the larvae are feeding on decomposing dead wood, but it may be bad news if they are feasting on the roots of plants in your garden.

A couple of ways to control these beetles is to treat flowers with a product like Talstar Pro insecticide. You can also add Diatomaceous Earth to the soil. This product tears at their exoskeleton.

Stag beetles are attracted to light, so be prepared to see them near your porch or patio light at night. Check for stag beetles living in or near tree sap in the daytime. They are likely to be found there because tree sap is one of their favorite foods. These beetles are also attracted to rotting, sweet-smelling fruit. Be sure to throw away those empty juice boxes or discarded pieces of fruit your kids leave laying around outside. Otherwise, you may be paid a visit by a family of stag beetles.

The best way to avoid stag beetles posing a threat to your backyard is to keep firewood or decaying wood far away from plants or gardens. This way, stag beetles will decompose the wood, but are unlikely to go near your award-winning sunflowers.





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Comments

Sami
24 Jun 2012, 23:42
We just found a dozen stag beetles in our back yard. Thetown recenrky cut a lotof trees in th e neighboorhood, sothats probably why, but we have 2 dogs to worry about. My pit mix tries to eat bugs and i dont want to kill them, but im afraid they will hurt her first. Is there a pet friendly way to just deter them from our yard?
lorraine titilah
06 Jul 2012, 23:37
could you please tell what the stag beetles larvae looks like and where i can find them to remove them
JASON
27 Jul 2012, 18:15
Thanks for the great article. I noticed them a lot this summer and while cleaning after my dog in the yard, I found a lot of dead male stag beetles. After close examination, I noticed holes coming out of the ground leading away from a couple undergrund stumps.

Because of your article, I will let nature do its thing and let my friendly stag beetles live their lives while they chew down my stumps. No need to exterminate a harmless insect !!!
angela douglas
02 Aug 2012, 22:00
You say don't kill them??? I have hundreds of little red baby looking stag beetles in my front yard. I don't know what to do. I just sprayed some raid type product on some of them. There are hundreds of baby red beetles...if I let them live, where would they go?? They are in some rocks that my landlord put in the front of the yard where there use to be dirt..I don't know what to do and I cannot afford a exterminator. Should I just wait until the winter or should I just move. I have pets and I don't want them to get bitten...help please!
Ask the Exterminator
06 Aug 2012, 12:06
First rule of pest control is to get an insect properly identified. Your local county extension agent will do it for free if you take the specimen to them. Then, you'll easily find out what to do about the problem.
maakiela
01 Dec 2012, 16:05
Hi thanks for this site it seems really helpful, IV just moved into my house just over a month, within the first couple of weeks we have fixed up the garden and put in a compost bin, now I'm constantly finding these things everywhere though my house, I must have picked up and thrown at least 20 in the passed 2 days and I have 2 under 4 kids and really don't want my littleist girl trying to pick them up and eat them which I know she will do if she finds any, after reading this page I'm assuming they are attracted to the compost bin which is probably to close to the house but I can't move it now, my house is a rental sand I have swinging doors that lead to outside that have big gaps which I'm pretty sure is where they are getting in, but I can't seal this up without not being able to use the door, is there anything I can make myself to spray around my doors and windows to deter them if not make is there anything I can buy, sorry for the long message but I'm willing to try anything at the moment, thanks for taking the time to read, I look forward to your reply, thanks again
maakiela
01 Dec 2012, 16:13
Hi thanks for this site it seems really helpful, IV just moved into my house just over a month, within the first couple of weeks we have fixed up the garden and put in a compost bin, now I'm constantly finding these things everywhere though my house, I must have picked up and thrown outside at least 20 in the passed 2 days and I have 2 under 4 kids and really don't want my littleist girl trying to pick them up and eat them which I know she will do if she finds any, after reading this page I'm assuming they are attracted to the compost bin which is probably to close to the house but I can't move it now, my house is a rental and I have swinging doors that lead to outside that have big gaps which I'm pretty sure is where they are getting in, but I can't seal this up without not being able to use the door, is there anything I can make myself to spray around my doors and windows to deter them if not make is there anything I can buy, sorry for the long message but I'm willing to try anything at the moment, thanks for taking the time to read, I look forward to your reply, thanks again
Candi
09 May 2014, 20:51
I saw one on my door and because of ignorance I panicked and had my son kill it. I immediately felt horrible and went to my laptop to do some research and once I found out what we killed I repented sincerely. I'm in my 40s and never ever saw such a creature. I apologize deeply to the Giant Stag Beetle family. I will never kill another one if I get the opportunity to see one.
Melissa
24 Jul 2014, 13:50
Hi! I know that Stag beetles are not usually found in houses, but I have found a total of four in the past six months in my basement. Two of them were female, as evidenced by the smaller pincers and the much more painful pinch I got on my poor toes. The other two were male, and only one of them pinched me. I think they are amazing, just not when they are pinching my toes. The odd thing is, they seem to appear every 6 weeks or so, and that doesn't seem to fit with any life cycle of Stag beetle, and there only ever seems to be one in the house at a time. Could my house be rotting or something? It is a split level, with the basement half underground, but it's poured concrete. I had never seen Stag beetles inside or outside the house before, and I've lived here for over 20 years. I've looked for larve, and haven't found any. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!
Johanna
28 Jul 2014, 08:20
Hi, I have several of these popping in the yard...where do I look for larvae? Stump? Mulch? All of the above?
Ask the Exterminator
28 Jul 2014, 09:57
Stumps would be my first choice. Keep in mind that, for the most part, the larvae of these beetles help to digest rotting wood, so they are good for the environment. It's the larvae you need to control, not the adults, if you are looking to be rid of these insects.
Jack Hoffman
06 Jul 2015, 10:44
My daughter has no trees or stumps in her yard, but there may be old wood under the backyard of their new house (they're in the house for over a year). Last night hundreds of stag beetles and dozens of slugs showed up in her backyard. Today many are dead and there are holes in the ground where they must have come from. Even though they're harmless, couldn't they begin to attack the wood in her house, like a termite? What can she use to eliminate them/their larvae? A few wouldn't be a problem, but this seems like a nest just hatched. They also have a dog so they worry about using chemicals. Thanks.
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