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Foxes and stag beetles

It is not just stag beetles Lucanus cervus that like to live in urban areas. Foxes Vulpes vulpes also do extremely well in an urban environment and, of course, they eat stag beetles, unfortunately.

Stag beetle remains predated by foxes and a fox scat

Stag beetle remains predated by foxes and, right, a fox scat with beetle remains.
Photo by Maria Fremlin.

The foxes leave the stag beetle bodies a bit mangled up, particularly the broken mandibles are very characteristic; therefore it is easy to tell them apart from the work of magpies. Once I saw a freshly predated male stag beetle that had also been scent marked with urine; probably I interrupted that meal!

They also raid their nests by digging them up rather thoroughly and are even able to upturn logs. No doubt they are attracted by the smell of the larvae and quite probably by their stridulation as well; foxes have very acute senses.
Below is a picture of a dug up nest which was in a tree stump part of a raised bed.

Stag beetle nest raided by foxes

A stag beetle nest raided by foxes, central area to the right of the plastic bag.
Photo by Maria Fremlin, 24 August 2008.

No larvae were found, only remains of their presence. The inset shows the typical pillow shaped stag beetle larvae faecal pellets, plus a couple of wing cases from another beetle, probably a lesser stag beetle.

Unfortunately, in my urban area foxes are a significant predator of stag beetles both during their larval and adult stages. Do get in touch with me if you have the same problem in your area.

Last modified: Tue Jan 6 11:03:39 GMT 2015

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