European stag beetle is the largest beetle in Northern Europe. Males are dark brown, and females are almost black in colour, usually its head and is darker in colour. Males have enlarged mandibles (reddish in colour, brighter than the rest of the body) that are longer than their head, females have small mandibles shorter than their head. Length of male is 4,5-8,2 cm (including mandibles it can be up to 9,5 cm), length of female is 2,5-5,7 cm. Beetle has long life cycle because growth of larvae takes 4 – 5 years. The larvae are shaped like a letter "C" and have a cream-coloured body with well-developed legs. Larvae can be up to 8 cm long. Larvae develop in soil next to the base of decayed trees or stumps and large roots. Larvae feed on dead and rotting wood decomposed by fungi. There is information in literature that larvae could be found also on other deciduous trees. Beetles occur in old deciduous forests and parks and pastures and also greenery of populated areas. Beetles are especially attracted by sap of deciduous trees (especially oak) in bark and stem wounds. Beetles are more active in the nightfall. Adult beetles live for few weeks, they appear mainly in June and at the beginning of July in Latvia. Up till now reproduction of species and development of larvae is not observed in Latvia.
Beetle is found mainly in Europe, and its distribution area reach Iran, Kazakhstan, European part of Turkey, south part of Sweden with some observations in southern Finland, Estonia and the Leningrad and Novgorod regions of Russia. Older findings of stag beetles are also known in Estonia and Finland, however, the main area of distribution of this species is located more to the south of Latvia. Studies about stag beetle is very incomplete in Latvia. There have been only a few findings of this species in Latvia, which have not always been confirmed by experts - in 1951 in Lielauce, in 2021 near Dobele in a yard of a private house under four meters large oak. In 2014, Dr. biol. D. Teļnovs managed to find information at the entomology forum www.MolBiol.ru that in one of the insect collections in Moscow there is a male beetle with the label “Riga, 1912”.
No research has been done about population size and dynamics of stag beetle in Latvia. If there is a population of stag beetles in Latvia, then it is numerically little. Threats of species existence in Latvia are not determined.
Management practices for protection
To continue to observe stag beetle in Latvia. To observe species reproduction in Latvia, size of population and its changes. Both officially approved locations of species observation in Latvia are not protected. Stag beetle is included in Red Data Book of Latvia (edition of year 1998) in the first category (species that will probably become extinct and further existence of the species is not possible without special measures in protection), in the Red List of Latvia and regulations regarding the establishment and management of micro-reserves.
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