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Creating a Suitable Habitat for Stag Beetles
People's Trust for Endangered Species have a campaign to create suitable habitat for the charismatic but threatened stag beetle. As you may know, dead and decaying wood is the ideal home for stagbeetles and many other insects. Stag beetles have a long life cycle - their larvae live for up to 7 years in decaying wood such as log piles and tree stumps where they feed on the rotten timber, before emerging as beetles to breed during their short spell as adults.
These insects don't travel very far and so the number found in an area depends on the availability of habitat at the time that the female laid her eggs several years earlier. An adult female stag beetle lays her eggs where she emerges if there is sufficient dead wood, but otherwise she needs to find somewhere else. Our general tendency to tidy the green spaces around us can therefore threaten these vulnerable insects, as places for them to shelter are lost or become isolated, leaving fewer suitable areas for female beetles to lay their eggs.
A simple and effective way of helping stag beetles is to make sure that they have a good supply of dead wood and can travel around easily by leaving tree stumps in situ or creating 'stepping stones' by partially burying a vertical log pile. The easy-to-follow instructions for creating 'Stepping Stones for Stag Beetles' can make a great community activity for young people or interested groups of adults. Burying a vertical log pile is something that anyonecan do to help increase breeding sites for stag beetles; even a single log can provide shelter and food. You can download the instructions here .
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