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Thank you Richard. At last, a picture of a female stag beetle. It's usually the male that gets all the publicity so people don't know what the female looks like. Even in last year's excellent article in GW magazine, there were pictures of males and larvae but no females. No wonder people squash them.
Reply to Barbara: It often says in rather dry turgid monographs that an insect might feed on "decaying organic matter", because when things really rot down there is not much difference between dead wood, compost, manure, carrion and dung. Any many insects can be found in any or all of these substrates. Stag beetles, like other insects breeding in rotten wood, are there because they can survive on the low nutrients in the decaying timber where other species can't. But maybe they have found an alternative niche in your friend's compost bin. I've often wondered whether the touted stag beetle bins (bottomless wooden crates half embedded in the soil and filled with wood chippings) actually work. But if they like the compost in Bournemouth...who knows. Thanks for the information.
The info about stag beetles is really interesting. I have loads of beetles in my garden, at the moment I can't identify them, but I wondered if anyone had a picture of a ground beetle and a picture of a vine weevil so I can compare and contrast, and only stomp on the vine weevil. At the moment I am leaving everything alone as I am not sure what is what.
I have a friend living in Moordown, near Bournemouth and she has Stag beetles in her compost bin. They are there all the time.

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