Q: I found this critter one evening near an outdoor light at a feed store. It was banging into the light repeatedly. It didn’t hurt my skin when I picked it up and it didn’t try to bite me. What is this creature?
A: Insect expert John Lee says it’s a great example of a male stag beetle. It doesn’t use the sharp mandibles to eat but to wrestle other beetles when trying to win the favor of a female beetle. In some parts of Asia they are raised specifically to compete in insect wrestling matches. Its larval stage is when it’s most important. You have probably uncovered a big white grub in rotten wood. This could be the larva of several large beetles: stag beetle, rhinoceros beetle, ox beetle, or unicorn beetle. They are detritivores, whose work is the last step in converting logs and fallen trees into useful organic particles. You should release your love-starved pet near an old log, where it can continue its search.