CARING FOR PET BEETLES VOL. 1 : DORCUS PARALLELUS - THE ANTELOPE STAG BEETLE



ECOLOGY

 

Dorcus parallelus, commonly known as the Antelope Stag Beetle, is a species of beetle in the family Lucanidae, and the only representative of the genus Dorcus in Canada. Reaching a maximum length of 29 mm, and living as long as 2 years in captivity as an adult beetle, Dorcus parallelus is a rewarding beginner species that can successfully be enjoyed in captivity.

Native to the deciduous forests of Eastern Canada, Dorcus parallelus can be found in both Southern Ontario and Quebec. In nature, the larvae develop in the decaying roots of various species of hardwoods including Linden, Elm, Maple, and Oak.

Females deposit approximately between 30 - 50 eggs in individually constructed, subterranean micro-incisions chewed directly into the highly decayed tree roots. Once the larvae hatch, they proceed to bore their way deeper into the white rotten wood, feeding on the mycelium and cellulose components. The larvae of Dorcus parallelus undergo three larval instars before constructing horizontally oriented, elliptical pupal cells, directly within the white rotten wood. In nature, this species overwinters as an L3 larva with pupation taking place the following Spring. Adults will remain in their pupal cells until emerging from late May through July.

Like most adult stag beetles, Dorcus parallelus demonstrate sexual dimorphism, with males exhibiting significantly wider head capsules and exaggerated mandible length. While both males and females are known to feed on tree sap in the wild, females have been observed consuming live invertebrate prey, likely utilizing this extra boost in protein to improve oviposition and fecundity. Adults are mainly terrestrial, but can be commonly found up to 2 meters above ground on vertical tree trunks. As such, this species will greatly benefit from a well designed vertically oriented, arboreal vivarium


Adult Antelope Stag Beetles are nocturnal, with breeding taking place from mid - late Summer. As the weather gradually cools down by late September, this species will begin seeking shelter under rocks, logs, or will burrow underground to overwinter as an adult only to emerge again the following spring.





CARE

 

In captivity, Dorcus parallelus can be kept individually or in small groups. Humidity should be maintained above 50 % at all times which can be achieved by ensuring a moist but never damp substrate. For hygienic reasons and to extend longevity, we keep our adult Dorcus individually on slightly moist aspen shavings. For this method, sphagnum moss can also be used. Alternatively, for a more natural environment, a bioactive substrate mix can be used. Examples of ingredients include fermented hardwood sawdust, black earth, fine sand, peat moss and clay. We seed our Bioactive terrariums with springtails ( Folsomia candida ) and povide an additional layer of dried Oak leaves and bark.


FEEDING

 

In captivity, Dorcus parallelus can be offered a wide range of fruit, sugary liquids as well as beetle jelly. Example of fruits include banana, apple, and watermelon, which should be replaced every second day to prevent mold, mites or fungus gnats. Alternatively, beetle jelly can be offered as a lower maintenance option, which need only be replaced as required. Additionally, Dorcus particularly enjoy the occasional treat consisting of a cotton ball soaked in a 1:1 ratio of maple syrup to water.


BREEDING

 

Despite their reputation as an excellent beginner species, the captive breeding of Dorcus parallelus presents certain challenges and specific requirements which result in higher levels of breeding difficulty and failure than many other species of pet stag beetle. In nature, Dorcus parallelus requires the correct combination of deciduous host tree material, moisture content, degree of decay, in combination with the presence specific types of white rotten fungi. In captivity, hardwood logs of the white rotten variety can be buried in highly compressed flake soil, ideally those having been previously colonized by species of fungi including Trametes versicolor and Pleurotus pulmonarius. Larvae exhibit low - moderate levels of cannibalism, and should be separated into individual containers of at least 8 oz. Provide the larvae with a diet of compressed flake soil or white rotten wood, ensuring optimal levels of moisture and ventilation. Often times, Dorcus parallelus will construct their pupal chambers against the transparent wall of the individual plastic container. It is always recommended to allow the adult to fully harden and begin displaying signs of activity before removing them. Once eclosed, adult Antelope Stag Beetles require several months before beginning to feed or mate, after which they may be relocated to their permanent enclosure.



SPECIES : DORCUS PARALLELUS COMMON NAME : ANTELOPE STAG BEETLE

LIFESPAN : ★★★★★ COMMUNAL : ★★★★

BREEDING DIFFICULTY : ★★★★

EASE OF ADULT CARE : ★★★★★