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Amazing bug find is first in118 years.

Byline: By DUNCAN GIBBONS duncan_gibbons@mrn.co.uk

A MAJESTIC stag beetle has been sighted in Warwickshire for the first time in almost 120 years.

The huge bug gatecrashed a barbecue in Stratford after being attracted by party lights.

It was captured by the householder and taken to Stratford Butterfly Farm where, a week later, a second stag beetle was brought in by someone else.

Steve Falk, senior keeper of natural history at the Warwickshire Museum, said: "Stag beetles are occasionally sighted in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire but the last recorded specimen seen in Warwickshire was in 1887.

"These are truly amazing finds."

Male stag beetles can reach up to seven centimetres in length and have very large jaws which look like deer antlers, hence the name.

Although they look fierce they are actually harmless to humans - they use their big jaws to show-off to females and for fighting other stag beetles.

Tim Jenkins, of Stratford Butterfly Farm, said: "Unfortunately stag beetles are now increasingly rare even in their stronghold in the south- east of England. This is because dead trees and rotting timbers are generally tidied-up from the countryside.

"Stag beetles need this supply of rotting wood as a food source for their larvae which spend three to five years eating and tunnelling through the wood."

Stag beetles have been identified as a target species under the UK biodiversity action plan which encourages sensitive habitat management.

The Stratford beetle has since died, but staff are keen for people to report any other sightings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area.

Anyone who thinks they have seen a stag beetle is asked to call the butterfly farm on 01789 299288 or Warwickshire Museum on 01926 412481.

CAPTION(S):

D27135_1; AMAZING CREATURES: Tim Jenkins of Stratford Butterfly Farm with a Thailand Stag Beetle similar to the one found in Stratford which has since died. Picture: MICHELLE SPERRY
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 18, 2005
Words:316
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