Mr. and Mrs.

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A male reddish brown stag beetle (Lucanus capreolus)

Humans may think of February as the right time for valentines day, but if you are a stag beetle the right time to find your soulmate is the heat of summer. I found my first reddish stag beetle  (Lucanus capreolus) a few weeks ago, the female pictured here, and within a week I found a male counterpart. This species mates in the summer, after which females oviposit in rotting wood. The larvae feed on the wood until they pupate and the cycle continues.

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A female reddish brown stag beetle (Lucanus capreolus)

The stag beetles (family Lucanidae) is remarkable for their sexual dimorphism: males have large, ornamental mandibles whereas females have smaller ones. This is due to a unique behavior, related to sexual selection. Males engage in ritualistic battles of strength over mates by locking their huge mandibles and trying to lift their opponent like a sumo wrestler. I have never witnessed this behavior in person but I have seen plenty of videos, some enthusiastically narrated by Japanese announcers.

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The enlarged mandibles of male L.capreolus are used in contests for females

 

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