It’s stag beetle season and conservationists are asking the public to report sightings of Britain’s biggest beetle in order to combat population decline.
South London saw the sharpest increase in populations with Richmond, Bexley and Wandsworth topping the stag beetle hunt leaderboard in 2018.
Members of the public are encouraged to join the great stag hunt by recording sightings in the stag beetle survey.
The survey has run for 22 years and similar methods of crowdsourced data were used for hedgehogs and dragonflies with varying success.
London Wildlife Trust’s director of conservation Mathew Frith said: “The stag beetle is a remarkable survivor in London and shows how wildlife continues to live alongside us, even in the midst of a huge city. Most people are amazed when they first see one of these stunning, super-sized beetles, especially when they realise they are harmless.”
While stag beetles are endangered on the continent and elsewhere in Britain, in London they are thriving.
This is supposedly due the reintroduction of dead wood habitats into parks and conservation areas.
According to Mr Frith the insects are vulnerable because they are attracted to warm dark surfaces such as tarmac where they are in danger.
The Wildlife Trust hopes to encourage people to consider wildlife when designing outside spaces with ponds and a dead wood area essential to a diverse ecosystem.
The beetles grow 6-8cm in length and are known for their large, harmless ‘antlers’ which males use to wrestle over mates.
Late spring and early summer sees the beetles emerge from their nests in dead wood and leaves to find mates.
According to the survey these beloved beetles are most often spotted on warm evenings and before storms, giving them their other name: ‘thunder beetles’.
Mr Frith continued: “By understanding where they live in London we will be able to help their survival.”
The decline is attributed to the tidying up of parks and natural spaces where the beetles lay their eggs in dead wood and tree trunks.
Visit https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/stag-beetle-survey to record your sighting.