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Are Stag Beetles Dangerous?

Stag beetles are particularly large, slow-moving insects with massive mandibles, and because of these characteristics, they are fascinating creatures to observe. There are over 1200 species of these amazing insects.

Their large pincers and thick bodies make them interesting to look at, but somewhat intimidating. This makes a lot of people wonder, are stag beetles dangerous? Let’s find out in this article!

Key takeaways

  • Stag beetles are not dangerous and will not bite humans unless they feel threatened.
  • Most of this insect’s food sources are rotting wood and decaying plants.
  • The male beetle’s mandibles are used to fight other males for the right to mate with a female stag beetle.
  • Giant stag beetles are classified as near-threatened species, so it is critical to understand how to help conserve their population.

Are Stag Beetles Dangerous?

Stag beetle on ground
Stag beetle on ground

Stag beetles don’t pose a threat to humans and aren’t considered dangerous. However, these insects have massive pincers that can deliver a powerful pinch.

Keep that in mind if you are considering handling one of these beetles. Male and female stag beetles both are capable of a very strong pinch that can be quite painful to a human.

Stag beetle’s habitat and diet

Stag beetles are insects named after their large mandibles that resemble stag antlers. They are widespread and common throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.

These insects live in a variety of environments, including woodlands, forests, meadows, and gardens. Stag beetles are most commonly found in areas with a high concentration of trees and decaying woods. Their larvae feed on decaying wood and vegetation, while adult stag beetles drink from decaying fruits and tree saps.

These insects also have a long life cycle that can last up to seven years. The larvae can take up to three years to develop into adults (they pupate) before emerging from their cocoons, and they only live for a year or two as adults before dying.

Difference between male vs. female

male (left) and female (right) stag beetle
Male (left) and Female (right) stag beetle

Male and female stag beetles differ significantly from one another from species to species, but here are some things that usually hold true.

  • The male is usually larger than the female in size due to the fact that they both play different roles.
  • Male stag beetles have larger mandibles than females, a result of their role as primary fighters in mating battles. Their mandibles are used to fight with each other before mating with the female.
  • Female stag beetles have smaller mandibles. They do not need to compete for mates; instead, they wait until a male finds them.
  • Females would release pheromones to attract male stag beetles, making them compete with one another to get her attention.
  • While both stag beetles have wings, the females prefer to walk on the ground as opposed to the males, who fly around in search of a mate.

Are they endangered?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, giant stag beetles are not endangered, but they are “near threatened” (IUCN). However, most species of stag beetles are of Least Concern.

The IUCN classifies extinction-threatened populations as either endangered or critically endangered, implying that they may become extinct within the next ten years. A species is considered near threatened if it is likely to become endangered in the future.

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The primary threat to stag beetles is habitat loss. These beetles are mostly found in forests and are reliant on trees to survive. One of the reasons they are considered near threatened is because the forests they live in are being cut down at a much faster rate, which is not healthy for the beetle population.

Are they important?

Stag beetles fighting
Stag beetles fighting

Stag beetles are an important member of a healthy ecosystem, as they help decompose wood and other decaying plants. This is accomplished by breaking down plant material into its natural elements, which are then absorbed by plant roots and used to produce new leaves, flowers, and fruits.

This also improves soil quality, keeps nutrients available for plants, and speeds up the overall decomposition process. Without the role of stag beetles in this process, organic matter would take much longer to decay into usable nutrients.

Things you can do to help stag beetles

Since some stag beetles have been on the decline for a while now, it’s important to think about what you can do to help their population. Here are some ways you can help these insects and help balance our ecosystem:

1. Leave some open space in your garden.

stag beetle in the garden
Stag beetles in the garden | image by Leonora (Ellie) Enking via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

As an individual, you can help by creating more of a balanced ecosystem in your own backyard. If you leave some of your garden as natural space, with no man-made landscaping or pesticides, you will encourage other stag beetle and insect species to populate that area.

This will aid in the creation of a more diverse environment in which stag beetles can thrive and reproduce.

2. Instead of killing them, transfer them

You can also help by looking for stag beetle larvae during the summer, when they’re most likely to be in the soil around your house. If you see them, mark the location and return later with a shovel or trowel to dig them up and relocate them to a safe location away from predators like cats and dogs (and even humans!).

stag beetle pincers
Stag beetle pincers up close

3. Build a log pile

You can also create “shelters” or log piles for them out of natural materials like logs or rocks so they can hide from predators during molting season; this will help them survive until adulthood, when they begin mating and reproducing again!


In conclusion, stag beetles are not dangerous and actually benefit the environment. They feed on decaying wood and are excellent at recycling nutrients in the ecosystem.

The larvae can survive by eating decaying trees before pupating, which also helps to accelerate decomposition and maintain a balanced ecosystem. Because of this, it’s critical to support the preservation of this species.

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