Cervo Volante – The story behind

Dr. Guilhem Mansion
Tue Nov 21 2017

“Cervo Volante”? You may certainly ask yourself, dear customer, the why and how of such a name, its direct relation to a beetle logo and, ultimately, the overall link with a leather shop? Pertinent questions we want to answer by giving the floor to the main protagonist!
Mr Cervo Volante, please tell us your story.

 

Stag Beetle; Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471 – 1528); Germany; 1505; Watercolor and gouache

 

“Cervo Volante”… This is actually my Italian nickname. The English call me “stag beetle”, the French “lucane cerf-volant”, the German “Hirschkäfer”, to cite but a few. I am indeed widespread all across Europe and I have, therefore, inherited many local designations. My official name, “Lucanus cervus“, was given to me by a certain Carl Linnaeus, one of the most acclaimed naturalists, also known as the Prince of Botanists! As a matter of fact, my sobriquets refer to our familiar deer or stag, “Cervus” in Latin, those ruminant mammals whose males exhibit a pair of majestic antlers that much resembles my prominent mandibles!

As you may have guessed by looking at the logo of the present store, I am quite a large insect… In fact, I can be considered the largest of all European beetles! In our family – the Lucanidae – the males display much larger mouthpieces than the females, a sexual dimorphism also observed for stags horns. And like my deer fellows, I am often engaged in ferocious battles with rivals, fighting hard for my beloved one! I then make the best use of my protuberant jaws to repulse my direct concurrent as far away as possible, in the manner of Greco-Roman wrestlers… The entomological version of  Clash of Titans!

Building such a gigantic body requires some time. I spend much of my lifecycle as a C-shaped larva (“C” like “Cervus”?), feeding quietly on rotting wood for more than five years. An eternal youth! If I survive this extensive period, I can turn into a pupae and wait patiently in my cocoon for the summer to come. And when the time is ripe, I slowly emerge from the ground, ready to start my courtship. With my large mandibles, I am not really designed for aerodynamic flight! Actually, I rather cumbersomely and noisily cross the air in a vertical position in the hope of impressing any potential girlfriend. Not the sexiest parade, but no reason to envy the stag rutting after all!

Another common point I share with the deer, is a strong predilection for unperturbed forests. Beech, linden or willow trees are fine, but oaks are second to none! I actually feel comfy in all those countries were woods are still covering large and pristine areas, such as Spain, Italy or Estonia, in the northern limit of my distribution. Alas, deforestation and monoculture have caused a dramatic shrinking of my home over the past decades, bringing me to extinction in many places. My presence is therefore a good indicator of species-rich forests under our latitudes and, as the biggest of all European insects, I constitute the perfect ambassador in the fields of conservation and biodiversity.

Coming back to “Cervo Volante”, the present online shop that proudly harbours my name and image as a symbol of sustainable trade, you are not without knowing that oak is one of the best sources of tannins. Employing a traditional, emission-free method, those phytochemical compounds are used to turn best quality skins into high-class leather. This natural process takes time… But perfection is always the result of a long procedure: just look at me, if I dare to say so! And guess which kinds of skins are used in this nature-friendly manufacture… Cervus’ hides, of course!

By choosing ecological and non-destructive methods, Cervo Volante promotes the protection of oak forests, favouring for instance acorn cups over timber as a source of tanning agents, elaborating non-polluting but longer processes of tannin production, and using deer skins obtained from population control measures, to ultimately ensure the survival of one of the most iconic European insects.