Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle
These are a very common beetle in their normal range, which covers all of the Eastern United States and parts of Canada. I find these beetles quite frequently at a mercury vapor light and white sheet that I have set up near our timber during the summer and fall months. Their preferred habitat is timbered areas so this makes perfect sense that they would be attracted to the light located near there. The adults have a definite sweet tooth and will come to sap flows on various trees. When kept in captivity they will feed on diluted maple syrup or sugar water.
Mating can be an aggressive affair. The males use their large mandibles to fight other males for the attention of receptive females. Once mated, the female will lay her eggs on or near rotting logs. The eggs will hatch and the resulting larvae will feed on the decaying wood. In about two years they will have reached full size and fall to the ground and burrow under the soil where they will pupate.
When confronted by humans the males may rear back and show you their open mandibles. This gives them a very aggressive, intimidating appearance. It might make you think twice about capturing one; with pinchers that big they can surely give a nasty bite right? Actually that is not the case at all, they are capable of only a minor pinch at best. So, no worries.
These are strictly nocturnal beetles and will be found on trees or near lights at night. If you want to attract them try putting out some sugary bait, you might be surprised at what shows up.