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For those who have never seen or heard of this insect, they will discover that despite its appearance, which for some may be terrifying, it is a harmless being, very necessary and useful for Nature. However, due to the devastation of the forests (their habitat), this species has been declining more and more and is almost extinct!
If this insect ceases to exist, the forests will decrease even more, since it contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity, because at the time of reproduction of this species, the larvae feed on decomposing wood, contributing to the production of humus rich in nutrients for the soil.
When they are adults, these insects feed on the sap of the trees and the ripe fruits, which helps to spread new vegetation.
How is this insect?
The blond cow looks like a beetle, with the difference that it has huge jaws that look like horns.
This insect is typical of Europe and, even in Portugal, it is seen as a symbol of the native forests of that country. Also, it can be found in Southeast Asia.
Their various names
The blond cow, whose scientific name is Lucanus cervus, is also known by other popular names such as:
- stag beetle
- beetle pliers
- pincer beetle
The males and females of this species come in different sizes and shapes, as the males are more showy and larger. Females can measure between three and five centimeters in length, while males reach up to nine or ten centimeters.
Another difference between the male and the female is that the jaws of the male are larger than those of the females.
In terms of physical appearance, the blond cow is dark in color with reddish areas, it has three pairs of legs, a small head and a large chest.
To reproduce, after mating, females lay eggs in the bark of fallen trees or in decaying wood, where the eggs hatch after about two to four weeks.
The larvae feed and develop on the tree in a period that can range from one to five years, and then move to adulthood during the fall.
The adult blonde cow lives between one and four months.
Behavior of the insect
These insects are more active at night, although it is common to find them at any time of the day in wooded areas, especially in forests where there are holm oaks, a favorite tree of this species.
Males use their large jaws to fight opponents in disputes over the female, at the time of mating.
Commonly, the males face each other in the branches of the trees, and the fight ends when one of them falls to the ground.
It is rare to find blonde cows in urban areas, as they need wooded habitats, so forest maintenance is very important for the preservation of this species.
In this context, the devastation of forests and urbanization are causing the disappearance of the preferred habitat of the blond cow.
Project to protect blonde cows in Portugal
In Portugal, where this species is found with great incidence and is an icon of the forests of that country, an initiative was created to protect this insect, which is the Vacaloura Project.
This initiative focuses on the acquisition and transmission of information about the blond cow for the monitoring and preservation of this species.
This project aims to collect data on the distribution and conservation status of the blond cow and other species of its family, Lucanidae, through information provided by Portuguese citizens.
For those who live in regions where the blonde cow lives, or even other similar types of insects, such as the beetle and ladybug found in Brazil, the SOS alert is: if you see these insects, let them live! Just drop or move them safely to the vegetation area.
Attitudes like these make us guardians of nature!
By Deise Aur. Article in Portuguese