Get ready for a lockdown stag weekend – can we beat 8,000 taking part?

Stag beetles are the largest beetles in this country. Picture: JERRY TURNER

Stag beetles are the largest beetles in this country. Picture: JERRY TURNER

We might still be in the throes of lockdown, but some people are preparing for the country’s biggest stag weekend – with no worries about breaking social distancing rules!

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is calling for people to take part in their Stag Weekend – a new national effort to help save and celebrate stag beetles this summer.

Next weekend, from June 5 to 7, PTES is encouraging anyone with a garden or an allotment to help the UK’s largest land beetle, by recording any sightings and making their green spaces more stag beetle friendly.

Gardens are a haven for all sorts of wildlife, and there are lots of ways to turn any green space into a stag beetle sanctuary. Creating log piles and pyramids, and leaving dead wood to rot down in the soil, makes the perfect habitat for stag beetles.

People across the UK are also being asked to record any sightings of stag beetles over the Stag Weekend (and beyond) as part of PTES’ annual Great Stag Hunt survey, which has been running since 1998 and last year saw over 8,000 sightings. Stag beetles typically emerge from the ground from late May onwards, and are most likely to be spotted when flying around on warm, summer evenings. Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at PTES, explains: “Stag beetles were once a common sight, but they’ve declined - mostly due to habitat loss - and have even become extinct in some parts of Europe. We can’t let that happen in the UK, which is why we’re encouraging as many people as possible to help save these spectacular insects by joining our Stag Weekend, making small changes to their gardens and by telling us about any sightings. These simple actions will allow us to understand exactly where stag beetles are still living and they where they need most help.”

Male stag beetles are easy to spot, as they have impressive, large mandibles (jaws) that resemble the antlers of a stag, and can grow up to 75mm in length. They may look intimidating, but stag beetles are harmless.

Females are smaller (growing up to 50mm in length), with smaller mandibles. Stag beetles spend most of their lives (which can range between three and five years depending on the weather) underground as larva, only emerging for a few weeks in the summer to find a mate.

To learn how you can help stag beetles visit here. If you’re on social media PTES would love to see your stag beetle photos using #StagWeekend.

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