A WILDLIFE charity is inviting Dorset residents to a Stag Weekend next month and to celebrate and save threatened stag beetles.

People's Trust For Endangered Species (PTES) is encouraging anyone with a garden or an allotment to help the UK's largest land beetle, the stag, by recording any sightings and making their green spaces more stag beetle friendly. Those without a garden can having a look for stag beetles when they are out walking.

The sightings of the beetles will contribute to PTES' annual Great Stag Hunt survey, which has been running since 1998 and last year saw over 8,000 sightings.

Laura Bower, Conservation Officer at PTES, said: “Stag beetles were once a common sight, but they’ve declined - mostly due to habitat loss - and have even become extinct in some parts of Europe.

"We can’t let that happen in the UK, which is why we’re encouraging as many people as possible to help save these spectacular insects by joining our Stag Weekend, making small changes to their gardens and by telling us about any sightings.

"These simple actions will allow us to understand exactly where stag beetles are still living and they where they need most help.”

Stag beetles typically emerge from the ground from late May onwards and are most likely to be spotted when flying around on warm, summer evenings. Dorset residents can turn their own gardens into a haven for stag beetles by creating log piles and pyramids, and leaving dead wood to rot down in the soil.

Ahead of the Stag Weekend, which will take place June 5-7, PTES will be posting tips showing how to help stag beetles at home, by sharing how to videos and hosting a stag beetle quiz on their social media channels from June 1.

Ms Bower said:: “The biggest threat stag beetles face is habitat loss. Many green spaces are being developed and dead or decaying wood in woodlands, parks and gardens is being removed, which is a huge problem as dead and decaying wood acts as a habitat as well as a food source.

"A recent study published in Science found that land-based insects worldwide have been declining at almost 9% per decade, which is really worrying and sadly includes the UK.

"But there are ways we can all help, and we hope that our Stag Weekend will highlight the beauty – and the plight - of these beetles, and that people across the country will be inspired to help save them.”

To get involved in the Stag Weekend or to learn how to help stag beetles, visit www.ptes.org/stagbeetles.