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Stag Beetles Lucanus cervus Mating Behaviour

When stag beetles emerge all they want to do is to mate. So the males fly out in search of a female. I've been very lucky to have observed the most interesting mating behaviour in the wild, several times.
Sometimes a great many males can be attracted by just one female, usually at the beginning of the flying season, and then spontaneous fights will occur.
That is what I call a "stag night" and the above link has a detailed account of my first one. Below I'm sharing more pictures with you.

Below each picture is the author's name, plus place, date (year:month:day) and time.


Stag beetles are often found mating on the ground. Note the way that the male encloses the female with its antlers, and because in this case he is so big they are nearly touching the ground.

2004:06:30 19:56:18

Photo by András Andrási. Budapest, Hungary. 2004:06:30 19:56:18 GMT

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Stag beetles found mating hanging down on a flimsy plant. Stag beetles are rather light, the combined wight of this couple is probably around 6 grams. They can cling to all kinds of surfaces with their forked feet, in fact they are quite agile.

2005:06:14 22:09

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:14 22:09 BST

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Below we have got a huge male on the top of a mating couple, on a fence... a precarious situation, see next photo.

2005:06:09 21:54

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:09 21:54 BST

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They all fell down. The curious thing was that about 20 minutes later this trio was photographed in the next garden, the female dragging the males behind...
They had gone under the gap in the fence!

2005:06:09 22:02

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:09 22:02 BST

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Four days later on the house wall of the mentioned garden there were many males chasing a single female. How many can you count crawling under the winter jasmine?
Four is the answer, three males and a leading female. See next picture for what happened soon afterwards.

2005:06:13 22:05:10

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:13 22:05:10 BST

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Now a male is lifting in the air the mating pair.

2005:06:13 22:07:52

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:13 22:07:52 BST

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The competition seems to have stopped and we have now only one male and one female, mating facing upside down.
In fact, I can tell you that this didn't last long... It is all in a video, just contact me if you are interested.

Why so many excited beetles in this area, first on a fence then on a house wall?
Well, we now think that the females were very interested in a couple of laburnum Laburnum anagyroides stumps, which were cut the previous autumn. These fights happened only that year, however the remains of a worn female were found there early May 2008 this suggesting continuing interest.

2005:06:13 22:08:16

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2005:06:13 22:08:16 BST

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Male stag beetle attempting to mate with a dead female. Sometimes injured or dead females are left "turned on" and the males find them very attractive. This pair was found in a friend's garden towards the end of the 2004 flying season.

2004:07:21 11:22:50

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2004:07:21 11:22:50 BST

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Male stag beetles fighting over the dead female. I must tell you that, this time, I've staged these fights. Indeed the males found her so attractive that they were willing to fight for her several times.

2004:07:21 18:30:48

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2004:07:21 18:30:48 BST

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Continuation of the above fight. Note how the standing beetle has positioned his legs. If anybody knows of any other beetles that can "stand up", please let me know.

2004:07:21 18:31:50

Photo by Maria Fremlin. Colchester, England. 2004:07:21 18:31:50 BST

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