Sinodendron cylindricum

(Linnaeus, 1758)

Rhinoceros Stag Beetle 

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

SCARABAEOIDEA Latreille, 1802

LUCANIDAE Latreille, 1804

SYNDESINAE MacLeay, 1819 

Sinodendron Hellwig, 1792 

S. cylindricum (Linnaeus, 1758) is a widespread Palaearctic species distributed from northern Spain and France across Northern and Western Europe, including the south of Scandinavia, to Russia. In recent decades there has been a decline in the range and abundance of this species due mostly to the destruction and exploitation of forested areas and changes to the proportions of tree species. The species is now extinct in some countries and protected in some others. In the U.K. it is our most widely distributed Lucanid occurring throughout England and Wales and sporadically in Ireland and through Scotland north to the highlands. Sinodendron is active both by day and night; searching by torchlight will often produce the species, more often than not males, on trunks and fallen timber. When found, males should be observed carefully as the sexes cooperate in breeding; males usually guard the entrance to a brood tunnel while the female excavates. The tunnel is usually branched, with many egg laying chambers packed with wood dust. Mating occurs within the tunnel. Larvae live for up to three years and construct pupal chambers close to the surface. We have observed adults emerging from the surface of an Aesculus stump in Cassiobury Park in June. Brood tunnels may be constructed on trunks or branches up to four metres high. The wood is usually dry with some signs of decay but we have seen them boring into a fallen and thoroughly damp Fagus trunk by the canal in Watford. Typical hosts include Tilia, Fraxinus, Aesculus, Malus Spp, Castanea sativa, and Salix and they have been recorded from Pinus but they seem to have a preference for Fagus. The species is common in suitable habitats locally; in general we see them on wood that has been damaged or to some extent decayed but we have seen them boring into damaged parts of otherwise healthy Betula and Aesculus. During the day they may be found basking in hot sun on logs or trunks, and on several occasions we have found them under loose and powdery bark on old Betula stumps. Sometimes they may be seen in flight, generally in wooded areas or above open ground at wooded margins, and usually a single specimen is observed but on one occasion at Aldbury in the Chilterns we sat for about twenty minutes in a Fagus wood above a calcareous hillside watching dozens of both males and females flying in all directions. In flight the red upper-surface of the abdomen is distinctive.

Among the British fauna S. cylindricum is unlikely to be confused with any other species.

10-18mm. Body entirely black, antennae and palps red and legs much darker red. Head punctured and pubescent, more densely so in the female. Eyes entire.  Antennae inserted under the front margin of the clypeus; scape well developed and club three segmented. Anterior margin of the clypeus raised, in the male produced onto a prominent horn, in the female entire. The female has a large tubercle or small horn on the vertex. Mandibles simple; not produced in the male. The lateral margins of the horn in the male are fringed with backward pointing golden hairs but these may be rubbed off in older specimens. Pronotum punctuate, more densely so in the female, with the central area smooth and shiny. Front angles produced and all margins bordered. Entire front margin excavate with variously developed forward pointing processes in the male, in the female the anterior third is simply convex and bears two tubercles.  Scutellum smooth. Elytra with a row of small punctures beside the suture, otherwise with large punctures arranged longitudinally. Sutural stria deeply impressed towards the apex. Upper surface of the abdomen red, lower surface black. All the tibiae have two rows of sharp teeth on the outer surface and two very fine striae above. Front tibiae with a single large spur inside at the apex; mid and hind tibiae with two. Tarsi 5,5,5. Terminal segment elongate with well developed, curved and sharp claws. Empodium short, with two fine setae at apex.

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