Image Credit: Jason Scott Means of South Charleston, West Virginia - www.JasonMeans.com
Looks can be deceiving. The Stag Beetle drinks sap and uses those intimidating mandibles for courting.
Common east of the Mississippi, Stag Beetles are noted for their large size and ferocious appearance, complete with a durable exoskeleton and imposing, pincer-like mandibles. The mandibles on the female are much shorter than that of the male, whose mandibles can be about the size of their heads. Among males, younger males have shorter mandibles than older ones. This species is different from other Stag Beetles thanks in part to the orange or yellow coloring at the base of each leg. Its exoskeleton appears very smooth and glossy with a rich dark red or brown hue to it.
They are primarily night dwellers and - like most nocturnal insects - are generally attracted to light sources at night. Despite having large, "menacing" mandibles, the Stag Beetle serves itself a steady diet of sap. The mandibles on the male are generally reserved for male-to-male combat when it comes time to woo a female Stag Beetle. The winning male gets the opportunity to mate.
Females lay fertilized eggs on dead trees or stumps. The grubs hatch and mature in the rotting wood.
Scientific Name: Lucanus capreolus
Other Name(s): Common Stag Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 36mm (0.78in to 1.40in)
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Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.