| Main | Stag beetle life cycle |

Lucanus cervus pupal stage

The great stag beetle Lucanus cervus spends a relatively short time in the pupal stage which is the most vulnerable time of its life.
In the wild, when a stag beetle larva is fully grown, it will leave the decayed wood where it has been feeding to build a safe place to pupate somewhere else. Generally, the larva migrates into the soil in the vicinity of the stump or other dead wood where it fed and there it will start to build a cocoon where it will pupate. By the way, this stag beetle species together with Lucanus barbarossa [1] and Lucanus tetraodon [2] are the only European stag beetles that pupate in the soil.
Understandably, it is its least known life history stage compared to the larval and adult stages.

  • How stag beetle larvae pupate
  • Pupal stage in the wild
  • [1] - Jeremias, X. & Escolà, O. (2003). Nuevos registros de Pseudolucanus barbarossa Fabricius, 1801 (Col., Lucanidae) en Cataluña, y algunas observaciones sobre su biología. Bol. SEA, 32: 99-103.
    [2] - Ilaria Toni personal communication.

Lucanus cervus pupa. Photo by Maria Fremlin. Male Lucanus cervus pupa ready to eclose. Note the very thin skin enveloping the dark coloured adult inside it; compare it with this one. Photo by Maria Fremlin, 20 August 2010.


  • Male stag beetle (Lucanus cervus post-eclosion behaviour). This is the first detailed video of the extraordinary genitalia-related male behaviour in this stag beetle.
  • Female stag beetle (Lucanus cervus post-eclosion mycangium-related behaviour). This remarkable female post-eclosion behaviour was first discovered by a Japanese researcher, Masahiko Tanahashi, in 2011. It seems to very reproducible.
  • Video of the eclosion of a Dorcus species. This Japanese video illustrates the important turning over of the imago soon after eclosion. If it doesn't not turn over its wings will be damaged and it will die. Also, note that before the male turned over, its everted genital capsule is clearly visible, 0:45, and that afterwards it squirted some liquid, 2:00. These post-eclosion observations fit with mine regarding the male post-eclosion of Lucanus cervus and Dorcus parallelipipedus.
  • Video of a male stag beetle Lucanus cervus pupa. This pupa did not survive its pupation outside a cocoon, it was attacked by woodlice from underneath. Thus it illustrates the vital importance of a cocoon.
  • The emerging scene of Lucanus maculifemoratus, a video in Japanese stag beetle.
  • For more about Lucanus barbarossa visit Ángel Martínez García webpage, 2012.   https://sites.google.com/site/elcerambyx/home/lucanus-barbarossa/larva-pupa-imago-inmaduro-l-barbarossa/lucanus-barbarossa-celda-pupal

    Last modified: Tues Feb 16 2016

    | Main | Stag beetle life cycle |