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Issue Number #35
Issue Date Winter 2006
Number of Articles Online 1 Articles
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Title At Home with a Stag Beetle

The Understorey Network is funded this year to raise awareness of stag beetles and other threatened invertebrates-and to assist landholders in finding ways to protect, enhance or manage potential stag beetle habitat.

What is small, black and flightless with protruding jaws like staghorns? The answer is a Stag Beetle! Tasmania currently has the distinction of having five endemic stag beetle species on the threatened species list, under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act (1995).

The five species can be found in areas located in the NorthEast and the SouthEast of the state. The Northern stag beetles are named after the zoologist that first described the species as follows Hoplogonus vanderschoori, Hoplogonus bornemisszai, Hoplogonus simsoni, or Simson's stag beetle etc,, while the southern stag beetles have more descriptive names, Lissotes latidens (broad toothed stag beetle) and Lissotes menalcas (Mt Mangana Stag beetle). The Northeastern stag beetles are found in the Blue Tiers/St Columbia Falls area, while the South eastern stag beetles are found in patches of suitable habitat from Orford, through the Wielangta Forest to South Bruny Island, including some of the Wellington Range.

The beetles size according to their sex and species, however they are on average a bit smaller than the top section of your thumb. Stag beetles have a common liking for damp shady places, in wet forest with plenty of coarse woody debris and a well developed leaf litter layer. They need mature forest that has been undisturbed for at least 50 years. Typical understorey species that are important for stag beetle habitat are the wet forest tall shrubs, such as tallow wood, musk, laurel, sassafras and blackwood.

The stag beetle larva lives on fungi and soil organic matter found in or under rotting logs and leaf litter, building up enough energy reserves to last for the rest of its life. Adult beetles don't feed so the broad toothed stag beetle perhaps has other uses for its large mandibles! The larva pupates inside a cell under or in rotting logs, hatching into a young adult.

You are most likely to see one of these cryptic beasties when the male is looking for a mate in early summer, or the female searching for a good egg laying site in late summer.

The main threats to stag beetles are loss of habitat through clearing for plantations and agriculture, hot burns and removal of woody debris for firewood.

If your property has potential stag beetle habitat, and you would like more information about stag beetles, or about managing this area, please contact Ruth Mollison, Understorey Network Coordinator on 6234 4286 or email: ruth.mollison@understorey-network.org.au


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