Flying stag beetle

Lucanus cervus (Ciervo volante) on the hills above San Juan de Plan in the Pyrenees of Huesca (the second bit of the video is what you’re after):

Proyecto Ciervo Volante writes:

Flight abilities seem, in principle, well developed. Fight speed reaches 6 km/h (D’Ami, 1981) but dispersal abilities are unknown. There are XIX century tales about mass movements (Darwin, 1871; Lacroix, 1968; Paulian & Baraud, 1982). Anyway, atrophy of flight muscles after some time has been reported (Paulian, 1988), which could limit dispersal likelyhood. Research is also required about whether sexes show differential ability or tendency to fly. Drake (1994) states that only males regularly fly but this seems not very likely. Given the ephemeral nature of larval food source, females must surely move in order to find adequate substrates for laying eggs.

Males are said keep territories (Huerta & Rodríguez, 1988) within which they fly looking for females. This story looks doubtful given the observations of groups of males. More likely is the gathering of males around the females, which are probably found by means of sexual pheromones, or at the feeding places.

Pliny the Elder noted that Nigidius called the stag beetle lucani after the Italian region of Lucania where they were used as amulets. The mandibles of the male beetle are like the antlers of a deer.” “Contra el mal de ojo son efectivos: una castaña de Indias, el cuerno de un buey, de un macho cabrío, o incluso de un ciervo volante; una rama de hinojo, una cuerda de siete nudos o el diente de un jabalí.”

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  1. I spent an enyoyable hour last night watching stag beetles flying around our garden in South East London. There were at least 5 all male. After about an hour they dispersed presumably in search of a female.

    We have seen stag beetles in our garden every summer since 2006. From our observations there are always more males than females and it is almost always the male that you see flying.

    One evening last summer we spotted about 10 males and 1 female. I also suspect that the beetles emerge from the larval stage some days or weeks before they begin flying and they bide their time waiting for a warm humid evening.

    We had to rescue a male stag beetle from our cat last week but they only started flying last night. A few times I have noticed Stag Beetles with what looks like a bit of cobweb on their antlers which suggests that they have been hiding under the shed or somewhere similar.

    I have also found them resting under long grass during the day which is presumably where our cat found the male last week.

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