Lucanus elaphus, commonly known as the Giant Stag Beetle, is a species of stag beetle in the family Lucanidae, and along with Lucanus placidus and Lucanus capreolus, is one of the three representatives of the genus Lucanus in Canada. Reaching a maximum length of 60 mm, this species has a recorded adult lifespan of over 12 months in captivity. Lucanus elaphus is a powerful, large species of stag beetle that can be successfully reared in captivity.
Native to the clay - rich soils of Eastern North America, Lucanus elaphus larvae develop inside / beneath decaying logs of various species of hardwood trees including Oak and Maple. Lucanus elaphus is nocturnal and can uncommonly be found from dusk until midnight on warm summer nights.
Females deposit between 30 - 50 eggs which upon hatching will burrow and feed within the rotten wood. Larvae are not cannibalistic, and grow communally as they consume the rotten heartwood. Larvae are known to stridulate, producing a characteristic chirping sound. It is speculated this tactic is used to identify themselves as being of the same species. The larvae of Lucanus elaphus undergo three larval instars before constructing horizontally oriented, elliptical pupal chambers constructed in the substrate. In nature, this species overwinters as both an L2, and L3 larva with pupation taking place in late Winter - early Spring. Adults will remain in their pupal cells until emerging from late June through August.
Like most adult scarab beetles, Lucanus elaphus demonstrate sexual dimorphism, with males exhibiting a significantly wider pronotum as well a large imposing mandibles. Females display modified frontal tibia, designed and optimized for burrowing and egg laying.. Both males and females are known to feed on tree sap in nature. Adults are terrestrial in the wild, but will climb if given the opportunity. As such, this species will greatly benefit from a well designed vertically oriented, arboreal vivarium
In captivity, Lucanus elaphus can be kept individually or in small groups. Although able to be reared communally as larvae, adult male Lucanus elaphus are territorial and it is recommended that no more than 1 male be present for every 5 gallons of terrarium space. Humidity should be maintained above 70 % at all times which can be achieved by ensuring a moist but never damp substrate. Substrate should contain a majority % crumbled hardwood / flake soil / top soil, with a base layer of clay. We seed our Bioactive terrariums with springtails ( Folsomia candida ) and provide an additional layer of dried Oak leaves and bark. Due to their preference for an semi arboreal environment, we provide our enclosures with a natural bark background in addition to vertically oriented branches.
In captivity, Lucanus elaphus 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 or third 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, Lucanus particularly enjoy the occasional treat consisting of a cotton ball soaked in a 1:1 ratio of maple syrup to water.
Breeding Lucanus elaphus in captivity, like other larger Lucanids, is a more challenging but rewarding process. Substrate should contain a large percentage organic hardwood based substrate, with a clay sub-layer for oviposition. Rotten hardwood logs can be burried to simulate rotten underground logs Larvae grow communally and will not readily cannibalize one another. Humidity should be maintained over 70 % at all times, but attention must be given to avoid over saturating the substrate, as this species is sensitive to excessive moisture. The larvae of Lucanus elaphus undergo three larval instars before constructing horizontally oriented, elliptical pupal chambers.
SPECIES : LUCANUS ELAPHUS COMMON NAME : REDDISH - BROWN STAG BEETLE
LIFESPAN : ★★★★ COMMUNAL : ★★
BREEDING DIFFICULTY : ★★★★★
EASE OF ADULT CARE : ★★★★