The wild boar have caused a lot of trouble this winter, rootling about in the soil like tractors, digging about for rotten wood because that’s where insects lay their eggs, which turn into juicy fat larvae, which they love. In the process they rip out and scatter stones everywhere which have to be cleared up or they will damage the grass cutter.
This afternoon, cleaning up stones – again – I came across two of the culprits (see photo) in a rotten stump. They were huge! The larvae of stag horn beetles, about 7 cms long, fat as my thumb, and, if you’re a pig, Yum, Yum!
Once quite common, the population of the Lucanus cervus, along with that of other species of beetles which feed on wood, is in steep decline, and is now listed as a globally threatened/declining species. Someone ought to tell the pigs.
The larvae go through several developmental stages (instars), taking 4 to 6 years (!) to become pupae. The work of entomologist Charlie Morgan during the late 1970s discovered that the pupae of the stag beetle live in the soil for about 3 months, then emerge in summer to fly off awkwardly to mate. Their slow, lumbering flight, usually at dusk, makes a distinctive low-pitched whirring sound. Adults only live for a few months feeding on nectar and tree sap.