stag beetle 5 TRIAL dreamstime_xxl_12544

Lucanus cervus

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Stag beetles have declined in Europe and are red listed in many countries. They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and are a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Stag beetles are suffering from loss of habitat. The UK has lost much of its native broad-leaved woodland and the decaying wood they need is often removed to make things look tidy. Stag beetles are found in areas of southern England, but fewer are recorded in East London than other parts of the capital, particularly in the South and West. In Wanstead they are rarely seen, and are less frequently encountered than their not-quite-so impressive cousins, the lesser stag beetle. The City of London is aware of the need to leave decaying wood, a key habitat for so many species including the stag beetle. As such, stag beetle sightings are probably a good indicator of the health of many other species locally.


  • When out and about, leave old stumps and deadwood alone. Female stags lay their eggs in rotting log piles, old fence posts and the roots of various rotten trees, including oak, apple, ash and cherry. 

  • Build a log pyramid for stags in your garden. Find out how.

  • If you’re mulching any of your flowerbeds, use untreated woodchip which can also provide ideal habitat for females to lay their eggs in and a food supply for the larvae.

  • Create an area of wild lawn. Mow once a year in late summer and remove the cuttings (this will help wildflowers naturalise).

  • Email your local councillors and ask them to make 20% of urban parks a wild area for nature, with features including long grass Grow Zones and woodpiles. These areas could easily be located around the unused edges of parks like Christchurch Green and would make these spaces much better for wildlife.

  • Never use pesticides or weedkillers in your garden. Instead, aim to attract lots of different wildlife to keep things in balance, using biological pest control if necessary. Lobby the council to stop spraying pesticides around our streets.

  • Reduce light pollution by ditching unnecessary night lights in your garden - it is thought to be contributing to the dramatic decline in insects.