July 08, 2012

Stag nights

It's the season for stag beetles, which are rare nationwide but have hung on in South London; in fact, my neighbourhood is something of a stronghold for them, for reasons that remain unclear. Sightings are being reported on Twitter from several local sites, most particularly Leigham Court Road; warm July evenings are when they are most usually seen.

Sven Teschke, Wikimedia Commons
The London Wildlife Trust try to record sightings each year, and their 2012 survey can be found here, along with information on how you can help them survive. Please report any stag beetles you see, anywhere in the capital and alive or dead; remember that the females won't have antlers.

The larva need dead wood to live in; it takes six to seven years before they pupate. So don't be too quick to tidy up logs or rotting wood in your garden. The fact that many London councils now leave trees to decompose naturally is likely to be one reason for this amazing beetle's survival in the city.