Species Lucanus elaphus - Giant Stag Beetle, Elk Stag Beetle
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga (Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles)
Superfamily Scarabaeoidea (Scarab, Stag and Bess Beetles)
Family Lucanidae (Stag Beetles)
Species elaphus (Giant Stag Beetle, Elk Stag Beetle)
Other Common Names
American Stag Beetle or Elk Stag Beetle. Incorrectly called the 'elephant' stag beetle, through misspellings of the specific name as 'elephus'.
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Lucanus elaphus Fabricius
Syn: Lucanus carlengi Angell 1916
Explanation of Names
- Greek for stag, (NOT elephant) (1)
- Major Male, Female
Very large. Body length 30-40 mm (males, without mandibles), 45-60 (males, including mandibles), females are 30-35 mm. Males are distinctive with elongated mandibles, huge size. Females are similar, but without huge mandibles. Differentiate from Lucanus capreolus
by dark legs, smooth (not punctate) pronotum. Mandibles of female L. elaphus have several small teeth, just one tooth in male (and female?) L. capreoulus. Labrum (upper "lip") is triangular in Lucanus elaphus
(male and female), blunt in Lucanus capreolus
(male and female). See Dillon, p. 567, figs. 432-435. (2)
Female L. elaphus is more brown, less punctate, than the very dark Lucanus placidus.
Key to North American Lucanus
e. US (TX-FL-DE-NE) (Staines 2001) - MN, MI and Ont. records considered doubtful
Adults may feed on plant juices, rotting fruit (?), and aphid honeydew.
Eggs are laid in crevices of moist, decaying wood. Larvae feed on decaying logs, stumps, where adults can be found in spring, early summer. (Presumably males battle there.) Larvae take one or more years to develop. Adults can be found at lights in early summer. Adults live for 1~3 months after breaking out of dormancy, one generation per year.
There is some conservation concern about this species. The related Lucanus cervus, of Europe, is threatened.
considered by Arkansas to be a "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" (SGCN) (3)
female similar to, especially, female Lucanus capreolus
and to Lucanus placidus
some large ground beetles, such as Pasimachus
are similar--note the clubbed antennae of Lucanus
, the thread-like or beaded antennae of Pasimachus
Staines, C.L. 2001. Distribution of Lucanus elaphus Linnaeus (sic) (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) in North America. The Coleopterists Bulletin, 55(4): 397-404.
Arnett et al., pp. 167-168, fig. 412 (4)
Brimley, p. 209, gives season in North Carolina. (5)
Dillon and Dillon, p. 569, plate LVI #5--male, #6--female (2)
Papp, p. 196, figs. 668-671, illustrations larva, pupa, male, female (6)
Ratcliffe and Paulsen, pp. 112-114, fig. 159 (7)
White, p. 136, plate 7 (8)
has good photos of male and female.
Beetles of Florida
lists from Panhandle.
- Mike Quinn, 2008
|1.||Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms|
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
|2.||A Manual of Common Beetles of Eastern North America|
Dillon, Elizabeth S., and Dillon, Lawrence. 1961. Row, Peterson, and Company.
|4.||How to Know the Beetles|
Ross H. Arnett, N. M. Downie, H. E. Jaques. 1980. Wm. C. Brown Publishers.
|5.||Insects of North Carolina|
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
|6.||Introduction to North American Beetles|
Charles S. Papp. 1984. Entomography Pubns.
|7.||The Scarabaeoid Beetles of Nebraska|
Brett C. Ratcliffe & M.J. Paulsen. 2008. University of Nebraska State Museum, Vol 22, 570 pp.
|8.||Peterson Field Guides: Beetles|
Richard E. White. 1983. Houghton Mifflin Company.