Date: June 2009
Place: Bahmut, Moldova
This dangerous-looking fellow is a common stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) from the Lucanidae family that takes part in the most diverse order of known species on the planet – the beetles, or “sheathed winged” (Coleoptera). It inhabits old trees and dead trunks in forests and feeds on nectar and tree sap.
The large threaten-looking mandibles are the privilege of the stag beetle male; female has far smaller ones. However, this male’s “dignity” is too weak to do any harm to large creatures. Still, the mandibles turn to be an excellent weapon in the ritual fight for female’s attention: the beetle uses them to grasp the body of its opponent and turn him on his back. And while the loser lies with his belly towards the blue sky and helplessly jerks his feet in the air, the winner claims his deserved prize – a date with the female stag beetle… if it is still around after the battle.
Another interesting feature of stag beetle is related to its larva – a “C”-shaped cream-coloured creature with six orange legs and a large orange blind head. It also lives in old trees and trunks and prefers rotten wood as meal. The larva can communicate with its siblings by rubbing together the combs in its legs and producing specific sound. This phenomenon is called “stridulation”.
Due to intense deforestation, the stag beetle became quite rare and is considered to be one of the globally threatened species. Lucanus cervus is included in the Bern Convention of the Conservation of the European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1982), the Habitats Directive (1992) of the European Union and the Red Book of the Russian Federation.