Survey confirms London as stag beetle stronghold

Stag beetle Londoners were asked to report sightings of stag beetles for an RSPB survey

A survey has confirmed the capital as a hot spot for stag beetles - and in particular the gardens of south London.

Londoners were asked to report sightings of the threatened bugs for an RSPB survey in June, with almost 74,000 people taking part.

One in five of the gardens surveyed harbour the species.

The bug's 10 favourite boroughs are all south of the Thames, with the highest number of sightings in Southwark, followed by Lewisham and Richmond.

The stag is the UK's largest ground beetle, ranging in length from 5cm to 8cm.

Top 10 boroughs for stag beetles

  • 1. Southwark
  • 2. Lewisham
  • 3. Richmond
  • 4. Merton
  • 5. Bromley
  • 6. Kingston
  • 7. Bexley
  • 8. Sutton
  • 9. Greenwich
  • 10. Croydon

They feast on dead wood underground, but the RSPB and other conservation groups are encouraging Londoners to create an urban substitute with buckets of logs buried in soil.

The stag beetle range is now largely confined to the capital and the south east of England, which has prompted its designation as one of Greater London's priority species.

The survey is part of the RSPB's summer wildlife survey, which also asked Londoners to report other garden visitors such as birds, frogs and foxes.

The survey shows very little change over the past three years in the populations or species of the top 10 birds visiting the capital's gardens. 

The most commonly recorded is the starling, followed by declining house sparrows, with wood pigeons in third place.

However, concern remains for migratory swifts, which were recorded in fewer gardens than in previous years.

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