Wil Hershberger, Lisa Rainsong, Wendy Partridge and I were leading a nocturnal prowl last Friday night as part of the Midwest Native Plant Conference when we found the beetle.
ASIDE: The 8th annual Midwest Native Plant Conference was held last weekend, at Bergamo Center on the 160 acres of ground of Mount St. John near Dayton. This event is always packed with great speakers, vendors, and field trips and fills up fast. This year, registration opened in early February and all 175 slots were claimed by February 27. Get your seats early next year, and find out all of the details RIGHT HERE.
As for the pinching part, yes, they do, but no one will die. It's just a little bit of a nip, although the burly beetles sometimes are reluctant to relinquish their hold. I was the one who spotted the critter in the photos, and scooped him right up with no problems. Later, a less experienced coleopteran-handler in the group did indeed receive a pinch, after some careless finger placement. The "antlers" are normally used to spar with rival males during rutting (mating) season. I'm not making that up.
So, if you see one of these spectacular insects, do not entertain thoughts of pancaking it. Instead, take note that you are seeing one of our most sensational beetles, which is not a bug one encounters very often. It plays a vital role in the decomposition of dead timber - one of the myriad life forms that is dependent upon dead or "over-aged" trees.
I've written on Pinching Beetles before, and if this short piece hasn't sated your curiosity, GO HERE.