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Giant Stag Beetle (Lucanus elaphus)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Giant Stag Beetle, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 8/15/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Giant Stag Beetle  
Picture of Giant-Stag-Beetle
Picture of Giant-Stag-Beetle Picture of Giant-Stag-BeetlePicture of Giant-Stag-BeetlePicture of Giant-Stag-Beetle

The hefty body and extended mandibles make the Giant Stag Beetle the largest Stag in North America.

It's not hard to see what makes the Giant Stag Beetle so fascinating. It is enormous, boasting lengths at 6 cm (over 2 inches). Flattened bumps round out the back of the male's head. Large curved mandibles that look like formidable pincers grace the front of the male's head; females have much shorter, more ordinary mandibles. Males use these to fight with other males over females. Its coloring is a hue somewhere between black and maroon. It is the largest species of its kind in the Stag family.

Giant Stag Beetles drink leaking tree sap as well as the sticky, sweet honeydew secreted by aphids on plant stems. They can be found on or around oak trees, rotting tree stumps and logs. They are most active at night, where cover of dark can aid in camouflaging them from predators. Like moths, however, they seem to be attracted to lights and may wander closer to homes and buildings where a fortunate person will get to see it in all its glory.

Picture of the Giant Stag Beetle
Picture of the Giant Stag Beetle

Giant Stag Beetle Information

Category: Beetle
Common Name: Giant Stag Beetle
Scientific Name: Lucanus elaphus
Other Name(s): American Stag Beetle

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Coleoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Lucanidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Lucanus
       Arrow graphic Species: elaphus

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 28 mm to 60 mm (1.092 inches to 2.34 inches)
Identifying Colors: black, red
Additional Descriptors: huge, large, heavy, bumps, pincers, pinchers, antlers, long, maroon, jaws

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; British Columbia; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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