Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle

Reddish-Brown Stag Beetles (Lucanus capreolus) also go by the name of pinching beetle, and by the looks of those mandibles it is easy to see why. They are a large beetle that measure up to 1 3/4 inches. The males have much larger mandibles and therefore are longer in length. The over all color of these large beetles is a reddish-brown (Some species may be lighter in color) just like their common name indicates.
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.


  1. When I told someone about these beetles showing up in the summers up in NE Pittston PA, they thought I was crazy. They would fly in, and as kids, we would play with them, try to pick them up. We thought they were the coolest! Think they stopped coming when they razed the woods across the street. Wonderful memory though. Kate

  2. Thank you for sharing your story of your childhood memories of these awesome beetles. I never say one as a child. In fact I did not see my first one until a few years ago, in spite of being plentiful in our area, they can still be difficult to locate. It's too bad that the woods across from you were razed, it affects all creatures that call those woods home, and sure changes things for us.

  3. Just found one of these crawling across my hardwood dining room floor. Took a picture, and I'm pretty sure that's what it is. I think it's awesome looking. My wife and daughters on the other hand...

  4. Yeah... I went for an evening walk a few nights ago and felt something crawling inside the back of my skirt, about mid-butt cheek, fifteen minutes after I got home. I reached down thinking it might be a little spider or moth that went up my skirt and was shocked when I felt something heavy and clinging. I about had a heart attack after throwing off my dress in the kitchen and saw what exactly was so close to taking a bite out of my butt. O...m..g... I'm a little nervous about walking again to say the least.