WILDLIFE charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is calling for anyone who lives in a known stag beetle area to get involved in their European study.

The charity has been recording stag beetle sightings for two decades. Taking part in the study as part of the European Stag Beetle Monitoring Network couldn’t be easier – all volunteers need to do is walk 500 meters, on six occasions between June and July on warm, summer evenings, recording any stag beetles they see.

Families, individuals, or groups of friends can all help - whether on their evening dog walk or walking to their local pub.

Stag beetles are the UK’s largest land beetle: males can reach up to eight cm in length. Despite their appearance, with their large antler-like jaws, they are harmless, with adults only living for a few weeks during the summer to find a mate.

The European Stag Beetle Monitoring Network was set up by the Research Institute for Nature and Forest in 2008. It comprises partner institutes and universities from 14 European countries including the UK, Spain, France and Germany. The network aims to assess population levels across Europe, monitoring the stag beetle’s full range.

Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at PTES explained: “We have been running the Great Stag Hunt, and other conservation initiatives for stag beetles, for over 20 years.

"Thanks to the thousands of people who have recorded their stag beetle sightings over the years, we now have a really good idea of where stag beetles live, but what we don’t yet know is whether their numbers are going up or down.

"Now, we want people to go one step further and take part in this European study too, so we can understand how stag beetles are faring on a wider scale.”

The life cycle of a stag beetle lasts for several years, but their numbers are declining due to the lack of rotting (or dead) wood, which is needed for adults to lay their eggs near and for their young to feed on.

How to make your garden a stag beetle haven

• Build a log pile: All you need is an outdoor space, some wood and PTES’ instruction sheet, which you can download



• Leave dead wood: If you have old tree stumps or deadwood in your garden, leave them alone if you can, as these are ideal habitats for stag beetles.

• Protect them from dangers: Stag beetles like warm surfaces, such as tarmac roads and pavements, which make them vulnerable to being squashed by humans and vehicles. So be wary where you walk and look out for magpies and cats, who can also predate on stag beetles.

• If you find a stag beetle: It’s usually best to leave them alone. If you dig up stag beetle larvae whilst gardening, return it to where you found it and replace the soil and rotting wood.

• Record your sightings: If you are lucky enough to see a stag beetle, record your sighting (with a photo, if possible!) via the Great Stag Hunt.

Stag beetles are found throughout western Europe and are relatively widespread in southern England, particularly along the Thames Valley and parts of Essex, Suffolk, Hampshire and West Sussex. There are also known populations in the Severn Valley, but elsewhere in Britain they are very rare or possibly even extinct. Areas with chalky soils, such as the South Downs, or areas where the average air temperature is low and rainfall is high, such as the north of England, are unlikely to be home to stag beetles.

Report new sightings