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Stag Beetle (Lucanus capreolus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Stag Beetle

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Image Credit: Jason Scott Means of South Charleston, West Virginia - www.JasonMeans.com
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Image Credit: Tim, taken on the Appalachian Trail, PA
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Image Credit: Warren S., taken in Willard, OH
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Image Credit: Warren S., taken in Willard, OH
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Image Credit: Autsin W., taken in Orient, IA
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Large, formidable mandibles on the face of the Stag Beetle attract attention regardless of its size.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Common east of the Mississippi, Stag Beetles are noted for their large size and ferocious appearance. A durable exoskeleton and imposing, pincer-like mandibles on males imply aggression, but this is not an accurate reflection of the beetle. 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. Among males, younger males have shorter mandibles than older ones. The mandibles on the female are much shorter than that of the male, which can be as large as their heads. Its exoskeleton appears smooth and glossy and has a rich dark red or brown hue to it. This species is different from other Stag Beetles thanks in part to the orange or yellow coloring at the base of each leg.

They are primarily night dwellers and - like most nocturnal insects - are generally attracted to light sources at night. Despite the large mouth parts, the Stag Beetle lives on a steady diet of sap. Females lay fertilized eggs on dead trees or stumps. The grubs hatch and mature in the rotting wood.

Known Diet of the Stag-Beetle-Lucanus-Capreolus

sap flows

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Lucanidae
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          Genus: Lucanus
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            Species: capreolus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lucanus capreolus
Other Name(s): Reddish-brown Stag Beetle; Common Stag Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 36mm (0.78" to 1.41")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red; black; orange; yellow
Descriptors: pincers; claw; pinchers; big; hefty; reddish brown; flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 36mm (1.4in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 28mm
Hi: 36mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Stag Beetle may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Stag Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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