| Main | Model stag beetle nest | Stag beetle conservation |

Stag beetle nests

First, “nest” is the Colchester vernacular name for an habitat where stag beetle larvae are found. For convenience, will be used throughout on this page and in the website.
Stag beetle nests have been found in all sorts of places, all they need is the right decomposing wood.
Here are a few examples of their choices.

  • Nest in woodland

    Stag beetle nest in the lying oak log.
    Photo by Carim Nahaboo, March 2009.

    Stag beetle larvae were found feeding in the oak log lying on the ground, on the right hand-side of the path, Epping forest.
    This is a classical example, stag beetles are primarily a woodland species. But it is very rare in the UK to find stag beetle nests in woodlands. They have moved to urban areas and the examples below attest to that.

    Return to the top

  • Nest in the root system of an old shrub

    Stag beetle nest in the root system of a very old forsythia shrub.
    Photo by Maria Fremlin, August 2008.

    Stag beetle nest found in the root system of a very old Forsythia shrub. This nest was found when the shrub was being cleared away because because it was too old.
    This is an interesting example of a nest in ageing wood, and one of their commonest choices.

    Return to the top

  • Nest above the ground, also in a very old shrub

    Buddleia trunk full of stag beetle larvae.
    Photo by Maria Fremlin, September 2008.

    Several larvae were found feeding in the trunk of an old Buddleia shrub; note the wood mould. This nest was also discovered when the shrub was being cut. The trunk and other branches were left in place and heavily mulched with wood chips.
    This is another example of a nest in an ageing shrub but above the ground, which is rather unusual.

    Return to the top

  • Nests in buried logs

    Oak stepping logs in a school playground.
    Photo by Maria Fremlin, October 2008.

    Oak stepping logs in a school playground. These logs have been placed in the playground a few years ago and now they are getting old. Stag beetle larvae were discovered in two of them during maintenance work.

    Return to the top

  • Nest under unburied logs

    Decorative oak logs in private garden.
    Photo by Maria Fremlin, May 2008.

    Larvae were found only on the left log, which is the only one that is actually in contact with the soil, and this is very important.

    Return to the top

  • Nest under logs set on a membrane

    Holes male by stag beetle larvae in a protective membrane.
    Photo courtesy of Polly Dooley, May 2008.

    Larvae found under a log that had been set over a membrane in a private garden. Note the holes that the larvae made in the membrane. Stag beetle larvae like to be in and out of the soil, sometimes.
    This is a remarkable example of their adaptability.
    However if the membrane had been set over an existing nest the emerging stag beetles would have had trouble getting out. See this example of stag beetles that were trapped under a membrane. Fortunately they were released in time.

  • Nest in a builders yard

    Stag beetle nest in a walnut log.
    Photo by Maria Fremlin, February 2008.

    Stag beetle larvae and one adult were found in a walnut log in the area in front of the caravan. The tree had been cut five years ago.

    Return to the top

  • Nest by a busy roundabout

    Stag beetle nest by a street.
    Photo by Maria Fremlin, 9 June 2013.

    Stag beetles were seen emerging and fighting in Crouch Street, Colchester, by Theo Tamblyn during the evening of 12 June 2009, 4 males and 3 females. Several days later, about 10 emergence holes were still visible in the area indicated by the blue ellipse.
    According to the Borough Council records, the lime trees currently present in this little patch of land in the center of town, were planted in 1972 when the area was redeveloped. Presumably, then a big tree was felled, no records of that though.
    It shows a) how long a nest may last b) it really doesn't matter where it is.

    STOP PRESS!   Several years later, on 5 June 2013, there was a fresh emergence hole in the area, see arrow. Kamilla Skov, a visitor from the Copenhagen Zoo, put her finger in it and caught a huge male, click here to have a look.
    Beware! At the beginning of the season, stag beetles have very strong muscles, rather powerful mandibles!

    It is absolutely amazing how long this nest has lasted!

    Return to the top

  • Nest on the pavement of an urban street

    Stag beetle nest on the pavement
    Photo by Maria Fremlin, 15 December 2015.

    The arrow is pointing to a cluster of toad stools. Some years ago I spotted some fungi bodies here, possibly sulphur tuft Hypholoma fasciculare which is known to be associated with stag beetle nests. Following enquiries, indeed a cherry tree used to be there some time ago. And in 2009 I found emergence holes and some corpses by this spot; thus confirming my suspicions that a nest might be there. Do keep an eye on fungi in your garden!

    Return to the top

    This collection of nests shows that the females seem to be very quick at finding places where to lay their eggs. They respond to an active tree management. That is, cutting trees is good for them. But to ensure succession one also needs to plant trees all the time.
    When did you last plant a tree in your garden, or anywhere else?

    Stag beetles - all they need is love and wood

    Last modified: Mon Feb 22 2016

    | Main | Model stag beetle nest | Stag beetle conservation |