Stag Beetles Locked in Mortal Combat

Photographer Kevin Day dubbed this fearsome-looking pair of stag beetles the Beast and the Contender. It’s pretty easy to tell which is which! Check out the size difference!


Image: Kevin Day

Stag beetles use their huge jaws to wrestle other males in disputes over the smaller females, food (such as tree sap or rotting fruits) and resting sites. Territorial as the next males, the Beast and the Contender face off in battle.


Image: Kevin Day

After a struggle, one of the contestants is back on his feet – or should we say backside? The way stag beetles ‘stand up’ like this is amazing; so too the way they duel like this with their mandibles in the first place.

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Image: Kevin Day

The Beast may have overcome the Contender, but notice where one of his front legs is positioned. It looks like he might just lose it!


Image: Kevin Day

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The Contender is trying to roll over to right himself, but it seems as if it’s too late.


Image: Kevin Day

Yes, it’s all over folks, and with his jaws raised as if in triumph, the Beast has won the encounter. (Admittedly, Kevin Day, as the ref, stepped in at this point and declared the Beast the winner so that no harm would be done!) Both competitors flew away, one accompanied by the sweet smell of victory and the other the sadder but wiser.

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Image: Kevin Day

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Stag beetles are of course named for their incredible jaws, which look like antlers on stag deer. When they fight they rarely fight to the death – although the loser will end up flipped on his back.

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