Stag Beetles-Lucanidae

 

Stag Beetles-Lucanidae

The family Lucanidae is one of the best known and, among collectors, one of the most popular families of Coleoptera. The members of this family are large, sometimes riearly two inches in length. The males are easily distinguished by their long, antler-like mandibles. Sometimes equaling the entire length of the rest of the lucanicTs body, the enormous mandibles of this beetle have caused it to be popularly called the pinching-bug beetle or stag beetle.

The female stag beetle lays her eggs in dead trees. During the larval stage, which can sometimes last as long as five years, the young stag beetles feed on decaying wood. The adults, however, feed on sap oozing from trees, which they lick up with their long tongues. They are sometimes thought to be pests since they feed on timber, but this is not generally true since stag beetles are seldom found on healthy trees.

Since the stag beetle feeds on sap, its huge mandibles are obviously not used to grasp food. Rather, the males use their antler-like appendages in much the same fashion as do the stags for which they are named, to battle with other males over a female or a particularly succulent tree.

Naturally, the stag beetle with the largest and most powerful mandibles usually takes the prize. Since stag beetles within a single species vary greatly in size (some adult stag beetles are more than twice as large as other adults of their own species) the inherent competitiveness of the family clearly favors the larger members. Within most species, however, adults tend to cluster in groups based on size. The middle-sized stag beetle finds safety in the company of other middle sized members of his own species, while the larger stag beetles battle among themselves rather than with their smaller and weaker cousins.

iucanus cervus, the European stag beetle, is one of the most popular of all species of stag beetles among collectors. Found primarily in oak forests, L. cervus is a large beetle. Its mandibles bear large teeth or prongs shaped much like antlers. Because of its popularity among collectors and the gradual disappearance of oak forests, L. cervus is in danger of extinction and is now protected by law in many countries.

Chiasognathus. In some species of stag beetles the mandibles, although large, appear more like saws than antlers. Chiasognathus granti, for example, has long, saw-toothed mandibles with hooked tips. The antennae of C. granti are unusual-they are extremely long and marked with yellow tufts of hair.


 

INDEX : Insects   January 11, 2016 02:25:40 PM