There are around 300,000 beetle species worldwide. They account for 40% of all known insect species! To keep track of all the species on the planet, scientists created a classification system where each species has a Latin name that describes it. One of the largest families of beetles, Lucanidae, contains over 1,200 species. One of these species is the stag beetle. Stag beetles are the only known beetles to have “pincers,” which are overgrown bones in their lower jaw.
What Beetles Have Pincers?
Stag beetles are known for their large mandibles, or “pincers,” which resemble the horns of a stag deer and give the insect its popular name. Stag beetles are usually black and brown, but a few are metallic green and iridescent red. The pincers are always smaller in the female stag beetles, but the females have a more powerful bite.
Despite their name, stag beetles are not dangerous or venomous. Insects are the larvae’s main food source, which they find in decaying stumps and logs. These beetles can grow to be large, ranging from 2 to 4.5 inches long.
What is the Difference Between A Pincer and A Stinger?
Certain beetles have the option of defending themselves with a stinger if they feel threatened. Stingers, as opposed to pincers, have a different mechanism of action. These beetles can produce severe pain and blister on the skin of the human body.
Beetles with stingers include:
The Blister beetle is part of the 7,500 species in the Meloidae family. Their bodies are an inch long and are solid black or dark grey with a yellow stripe. They frequently eat alfalfa, tomatoes, and beets from tiny gardens. Blister beetles love light, especially on patios. This increases the chance of a human encountering the beetle. The blister beetle releases cantharidin, a deadly toxin that causes human skin to blister. Skin blistering fades away with time. Although rare, blister beetle bites can be lethal to humans if they cause a severe allergic reaction.
African Bombardier Beetle
More than five hundred African bombardier species are known to exist in the world, the African bombardier beetle being one. An explosive liquid discharge from the abdomen of Bombardier beetles serves as a protection mechanism for this tiny creature. Though not harmful to humans, this substance can irritate and burn the skin, giving the impression of an insect bite.
The Hercules Beetle
The Hercules beetle, or D. Hercules, is a rhinoceros beetle found in the rainforests of Central America and is one of the largest beetles in the world because of its long horns. These horns sprout from the tops of their heads and extend down to the middle of their backs. These claw-like horns are not technically a stinger or a pincer, but they are utilized for defense against predators and to compete for the attention of females. They are not utilized for pinching or for biting. The Hercules beetle vies for the crown of the largest beetle in the world and is the longest beetle alive today.
Long-horned beetles (Cerambycidae) are a family of 20,000 species. Long-horned beetles reach half an inch in length. Their large antennas, three times longer than their body, make them easily identifiable. Pests to firewood and natural recyclers, these creatures into decaying or dead wood. Other food sources for these beetles include pollen and nectar. A long-horned beetle can bite a person, producing swelling and intense discomfort for up to 48 hours afterward. Humans are not severely affected by the bite.
Can A Stag Beetle “Pinch” You?
Despite their intimidating look, stag beetles rarely attack humans. the Stag beetle has pincers for defense against other insects. While it’s unusual that a stag beetle will bite you when held, this beetle’s inherent defense mechanism makes it possible. When it comes to human safety, male mandibles are too weak to truly harm people; nevertheless, female mandibles are petite and powerful and may deliver an extremely painful bite. While they pose little danger to humans or pets, mating season is when they might become violent to one other.
How Do Stag Beetles Use Their Pincers?
Male stag beetles use their pincers to dislodge their opponents’ tarsal claws, disturbing their equilibrium. They use their large mandibles to grapple over preferred mating places, like stags fighting over females.
Females have smaller pincers for eating, not fighting. They will burrow into the earth and lay up to twenty-one eggs. These larvae stay underground, feeding on rotting wood. In May, a larva emerges as an adult from its cocoon.
What Do Stag Beetles Eat?
The larval stage of these stag beetle species will eventually metamorphose into a cocoon. The larvae feed on decaying wood and leaves in the soil, while the adults rely on stored fat. The larvae of the stag beetle chew into the tree and feed on the decomposing wood’s juices.
The stag beetle larva feeds on dead wood for several years before maturing into an adult. Adults cannot eat solids, so they rely on fat stored in their larval phase. They will also eat sap flows, nectar, and soft fruit that has fallen to the ground.
Do Stag Beetles Fly?
Yes, stag beetles fly. The fact that its mandibles can outgrow its body size is a disadvantage. Due to their disproportionate bodies, they fly to their destination. On sunny summer evenings, the adults seem to fly to the stars. Males are often spotted flying around looking for a partner. With their antler-like pincers, they can engage in a battle with other males to win over the female. Female beetles, despite being able to fly, are mostly found on the ground.
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