The aptly named stag beetle has enjoyed an excellent summer. Our largest terrestrial insect, the mighty fearsome looking but harmless beetle is listed as an endangered species.

It flies from late May into early July on warm calm evenings as the light fades, lumbering around clumsily, its wings beating with a loud low-pitched thrumming sound. Eggs are laid on decaying wood, never live timber, usually underground and larvae munch away for up to seven years turning the wood into rich compost before pupating. They are indeed one of nature's 'little rotters'.

My garden has been a 'hotspot' for stag beetles ever since a large sycamore was felled in my neighbour's garden, attracting females to burrow into the soil and lay eggs on the decaying tree roots.

In late June I listened to many emerging beetles climbing laboriously up the fence, noisily negotiating ivy and clematis before reaching the top. After pausing for a while the beetles launched themselves into the air at dusk to search for females, following pheromone scents wafting on the still air.

The beetles do not feed on solids but lap up tree sap and liquids with an orange brush-like tongue. Jaws of the males have evolved solely for fighting rivals. The bulky insects attract a range of predators including crows, magpies and jays which eat all but the head and massive jaws,while badgers dig up the growing larvae.

I have even watched foxes and cats in the garden leaping up trying to catch the beetles as they fly low in the gloaming.