I moan about many things in my garden. Backing on to the A12, with very little in the way of bird life (with the untouched bird feeders to prove it), no hedgehogs or thrushes and the odd cat wandering through. However for a few nights in late May and early June one of my favourie animals appears: stag beetles
They are Britains biggest insect (well on land, the aquatic great silver water beetle may be heavier) and spend at least 3 years as larvae eating rotten wood before pupating and emerging as the rather sizable exotic looking adult.
The fact they come out in the evening and I can never seem to track one down in the day (with the exception of one that turned up in the kitchen sink a few years ago!) means I have to use a long shutter speed, (which is only possible only if the beetle sits still)…
…or use the flash. This is tricky however as they are very reflective and my efforts in previous years using on camera flash resulted in shots with little colour. However using off camera diffused flash worked pretty well.
Of course when a male and female are on the same tree, the male seems to know where she is. He does this by following her pheromones. Stag beetles of both sexes produce these using a yellow patch of setae on the femur of their front pair of legs (more about this here). You can see this yellow patch on the male in the pic below (and on the pic of the female above). Of course when the male finds the female the inevitable happens. There is no courtship, he just crawls on top of her!
Not bad for my garden.