By Tony Ridd
People across the Isle of Wight are asked to record stag beetle sightings from late May into July. This is part of a nationwide annual survey called the ‘Great Stag Hunt’.
Stag beetles were once widespread, but due to habitat loss they’re now on the decline and have even become extinct in some parts of Britain. To prevent that from further happening, PTES is calling for volunteers to help this summer by recording all sightings of male and female stag beetles and their larvae (large, white grubs).
Last year only 16 records were submitted by volunteers on the Isle of Wight. PTES is keen to hear from anyone who spots a stag beetle this year to see if numbers are similar, have increased or decreased.
Spotting Stag Beetles
Stag beetles are easy to spot – they’re the UK’s largest land beetles. The males are instantly recognisable with their antler like jaws. From late May into July these iconic insects emerge from the ground in search of mates. They are usually spotted flying around gardens, parks and allotments on warm summer evenings. They can also be see on walls and warm tarmac surfaces in urban areas, and in other green spaces too such as woodland edges, hedgerows and traditional orchards.
Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at PTES says: “Last year almost 10,000 sightings were recorded by thousands of volunteers, giving us a real insight into where their range is. This is crucial for the species’ long-term survival. You don’t need to be a beetle expert or to have taken part before. PTES has a free ‘beetle ID’ guide to help anyone new to the survey to tell the differences between insects.”
Another great way to help stag beetles is to build a log pile or pyramid in your own garden. Using tree stumps, fallen branches or old firewood, bury them upright in soil. This provides a vital food source for larvae (who feed on deadwood). It also offers shelter and a place for female stag beetles to lay their eggs. Once your log pile is created, record its location to allow PTES to see where these important habitats exist. Inspire others to create one too.
To take part in the Great Stag Hunt 2023, for top tips on creating the perfect log pile, or to find out more about stag beetles visit: www.stagbeetles.ptes.org