stag beetle lucanus cervus

The New Forest has an estimated 2,600 kinds of beetles, (65%) of Britain’s c. 4,000 species. An impressive range of uncommon and special species is included, in several cases they are only found in the Forest, which ranks as one of the top areas in the country with coleopterists (those who study beetles).

Many people know what a Stag beetle is (Britain’s largest beetle), even if they have never seen one; it is fortunate that gardeners in the area sometimes say they are common, as this is certainly not the case in most parts of the country! Beetles are spread across all the habitats, with specialities which only live on heathlands, but most well known and sought after are the saproxylic species i.e. those dependant on the fungal decay of dead woody tissues. In some cases, these rare species tend to only occur in ancient woodlands, with only Windsor Forest comparable. The No. 1 site in the Forest and possibly Britain is Denny Wood.

Beetles lay eggs that hatch into larvae, which are fast-running predators, plant feeders or grubs with or without legs, concealed in their food source. The larva forms a pupa, before the adult emerges. Some larvae damage timber, particularly longhorn beetles, so called because of their long antennae.

The range of habitats is important for the beetles of the New Forest and many depend upon the habitat management being just right for them. Here we look at a few rare species that have a particular stronghold in the New Forest and some of the common species that you are most likely to see.

Reference: Brock, Paul D. 2011. A Photographic Guide to Insects of the New Forest and Surrounding Area. Pisces Publications, Newbury.

Photo: Paul D. Brock

  1. Beetles (you are here)
  2. Flame-shouldered Blister Beetle
  3. Rose Chafer
  4. Noble Chafer
  5. Green Tiger Beetle
  6. Stag beetle
  7. Scarlet Malachite
  8. Brown Diving Beetle
  9. Great Diving Beetle


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