This beautiful stag beetle occurs in central Europe, mostly at low altitudes and in flat country. It is now extinct in Britain.
Fortunately, during a field trip to the Sonian forest, near Brussels, Belgium, part of the 9th Symposium on the Conservation of Saproxylic Beetles, David Scaccini found some. As I also attended this symposium, seeing this stag beetle for the first time was one of its highlights. See below a male on his hand.
Male Platycerus caraboides, 12 mm. Photo by Maria Fremlin, 22 April 2016.
These stag beetles are rather small, 9-13 mm, and exhibit relatively low sexual dimorphism.
P. caraboides favours small red-rotted branches of hard-wood trees lying on the ground. The female makes distinctive oviposition scars in the wood. See below.
The same male on the branch in which was found. Photo by Maria Fremlin, 22 April 2016.
Note the oviposition scars at the base of the photo.
Larvae are sometimes found inside such branches. See below.
This third instar larva is very small. Its head capsule width is about as big as a first instar Lucanus cervus larva; that is just under 3 mm.
Click on the picture to see a video of it moving. It is a female, one can see the cream-ish ovaries through the skin. Right at the end, this lively larva defaecates in typical stag beetle fashion. Stag beetle larvae dislike being handled and react with this reflex.
This relatively rare stag beetle has been the object of study by Davide Scaccini. For example:
Scaccini, D., 2016. First record of oviposition scars in two European Platycerus species: P. caprea (De Geer, 1774) and P. caraboides (Linnaeus, 1758) (Coleoptera: Lucanidae). Bulletin de la Société royale belge d’Entomologie, 152 (2): 142-151.
For more, look him up in Researchgate.
Help! Live specimens of this ancestral stag beetle together with Sinodendron cylindricum are needed for research in their mycangia symbionts in collaboration with Dr. Masahiko Tanahashi! If you find some, please collect them and then get in touch with me.
Last modified: Sun Mar 19 2017
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