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Species Lucanus elaphus - Giant Stag Beetle

Elephant Stag Beetle (Lucanus elaphus) - Lucanus elaphus - male Giant stag beetle - Lucanus elaphus - male Unknown Beetle - Lucanus elaphus Giant Stag Beetle (Lucanus elephus) - Lucanus elaphus - female Giant Stag Beetle - Lucanus elaphus - male Giant Stag Beetle - Lucanus elaphus - male Lucanus  - Lucanus elaphus - female Stag horn beetle - Lucanus elaphus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga
Superfamily Scarabaeoidea
Family Lucanidae (Stag Beetles)
Subfamily Lucaninae
Tribe Lucanini
Genus Lucanus
Species elaphus (Giant 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, 1775
Syn: Lucanus carlengi Angell 1916
Explanation of Names
elaphus - Greek for stag, (NOT elephant) (1)
4 Nearctic spp.
30-60 mm
- 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 species here.
e. US (TX-FL-DE-NE) (Staines 2001) - MN, MI and Ont. records considered doubtful
Deciduous forests
May-Jul (BG data)
Adults may feed on plant juices, rotting fruit (?), and aphid honeydew.
Life Cycle
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)
See Also
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
Print References
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)
Internet References
Insecta Culture has good photos of male and female.
Beetles of Florida lists from Panhandle.
Texas Entomology - Mike Quinn, 2008
Works Cited
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.
3.Arkansas "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" (SGCN) - 2006
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.