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L elaphus male pupa


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I dumped my Lucanus elaphus bin (gently) so that I could introduce a layer clay substrate for them to pupate in even though I thought it was a few months early, and was pretty shocked to find this handsome lad right on top in a mostly destroyed cell. I can definitely see why this species prefers to pupate in clay; the walls of his cell we very weak compared to the sturdy crust created by something like D tityus or G thula. He's in a nice little floral foam cell now.


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Based on the size of the mandibles, that appears to be a rather good-sized male - congratulations!  Note how the aedeagus (that coiled bit held to one side of the tip of the abdomen) in lucanids is situated externally in the pupal stage; in scarabs, it's internal.

Yes - best to place a firmly pressed layer of moistened clay soil at the bottom of the rearing container when elaphus larvae are nearly ready to build cells - organic substrate really isn't dense enough for them to build strong cells.  I've found that all too often, if not provided with clay, many elaphus larvae will just wander for weeks (if not months) after reaching full size and eventually shrink and die from the exhaustion of searching for suitable pupation substrate.

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I had one emerge about a month after it pupated. As I understand it, they need a hibernation period after they harden their exoskeleton. 

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