LEWISHAM is not exactly famous for its wildlife, but a survey claims it is one of the top places in London to find a stag beetle.

Wildlife volunteer Daniel Greenwood is a big fan of the creatures, despite their fearsome appearance.

He says: "Growing up in Lewisham as a kid, the sight of a stag beetle on the pavement was not unusual.

"You can see where some insects get the name mini-beasts when you look at this particular creature - its huge mandibles give it a sense of outward aggression, as if it’s constantly spoiling for a fight."

In fact, he says, the beetles are perfectly harmless and it is us who are putting them in danger with suburban sprawl since the Second World War wiping out much of the woodland habitats they call home.

But Mr Greenwood said: "Funnily enough, London is a great place to find stag beetles, particularly a swathe of south London from Bexley in the east to Richmond in the west.

"In the past week I’ve seen three male stag beetles, two of them on the wing looking for a mate and one dead on a doorstep.

"The heavy rain and summer break-outs have created good opportunities to view male stags flying around because windy and wet weather is unsuitable for a cruising stag dude."

The London Wildlife Trust charity, which he works for, has launched a campaign to map the distribution of stag beetles in the city.

A similar exercise last year showed that Lewisham had the third highest number of sightings in the capital - 30 - just behind Hounslow and Wandsworth. Sydenham is highlighted as a particular hotspot.

The trust wants Lewisham people to join the hundreds who have already taken part, particularly by keeping watch in their gardens.

Mr Greenwood said: "It’s interesting a new wave of wildlife watchers who can take the lead on protecting this precious species in the decades to come."

To send in your sightings, visit wildlondon.org.uk/stag-beetle-survey-2011-12

How you can help a stag beetle

Mr Greenwood explains: "If you have a garden, allow a wild fringe to evolve and create deadwood piles near trees to mimic a woodland habitat.

"If you have a tree that’s dead or been felled, let part of the wood or at least the stump remain there.

"It’s all about keeping things messy. It’s a good idea to keep your cat in from dusk onwards when the beetles are likely to be roaming.

"If you don’t own a garden why not join a local friends of group for a park or nature reserve and help to create stag beetle habitat, or set an area aside for them in your community garden?

"Stag beetles need our help. By finding out where they are today we can help to protect and promote them for the foreseeable future."