Join the Great Stag Hunt - Stag Beetle that is

Picture by Aimi MacInnes
It's National Insect Week in the UK and the conservation charity, People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is looking for Citizen Scientists to take part in its annual survey to record sightings of the stag beetle. Here's how to take part.
If you see a male stag beetle in flight, you should jump for joy at your great fortune and then, please, scurry to the PTES website and record the sighting - MG Leonard, author of Beetle Boy.

OK, we know they're not everyone's idea of sexy or cute or furry or even fun to be around but that's maybe all the more reason to give insects their own dedicated appreciation awareness week - which just happens to be next week (20-26 June).

The UK's National Insect Week, which is held every other year, will celebrate our native insects of which there are 24,000 different species including the stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) whose numbers, sadly, are in decline across Europe thanks to habitat loss and predation.

The People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has now been running its annual Great Stag Hunt encouraging people to record sightings online since 1998. And last year, 5,500 sightings were recorded with thousands of Citizen Scientists taking part.

A UK conservation charity first set up in 1977, over the last decade PTES has been funding research into stag beetles with Professor Alan Gange and Dr Deborah Harvey who are based at the Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL), with both the charity and the academics working together to write the Biodiversity Action Plan for this threatened insect.

The largest of all British beetles, Stag beetles are easily recognisable thanks to their huge mandibles, which resemble those of a male deer's antlers. They emerge from now until the end of the summer months, and do so in order to find a mate after up to seven years living underground as larvae, feeding on rotten wood. They tend to live in gardens, traditional orchards, woodland and parks and are most likely to be spotted flying on warm summer evenings.

Stag beetles are prevalent across southern England and coastal areas of the South West, but are less common in Northern England. And PTES is keen to hear, in particular, from people living in those regions that border the stag beetles' known range, such as Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. 



Seen a stag beetle? To record your sighting visit

More information on National Insect Week, organized by The Royal Entomological Society, along with PTES and other organisations.

To help further raise the profile of these beetles, PTES is working with MG Leonard, author of the best-selling children's novel Beetle Boy; a heart-warming tale that is the first part of a Beetle Trilogy. More on this collaboration here.

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