Reddish-brown stag beetle (Lucanus capreolus) is relatively large beetle. It occurs in the United States east of the Great Plains and in adjacent Canadian provinces. It is found around decaying logs and stumps in deciduous forests, parks, and neighborhoods with trees. Larvae feed on decaying wood, adults feed on tree sap. The name “stag beetle” refers to the oversized mandibles on some males that resemble deer antlers. Another common name for this beetle is pinching bug. The mandibles look fierce and are used to fight other males over a female. When confronted, it will rear back threateningly with its mandibles open. However, when handled by humans, it can give no more than a mild pinch.
Adults are reddish-brown and up to 1½″ long, not including the mandibles. The antennae have 10 segments, are abruptly bent, and are expanded (clubbed) at the tip. The body appears smooth but is densely covered with very fine punctures. The third and largest segment of each leg is distinctly pale.
Many-headed slime (Physarum polycephalum) is a plasmodial slime mold. It has been reported in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, and South America. Most reports are from the eastern United States. All but a few plasmodial slime molds are invisible to the naked eye, are usually overlooked, and are little studied. Many-headed slime is an exception in all respects. It is most often found on a growth medium (agar) in laboratories, where it is frequently used in researching cell development, protoplasmic streaming, and nuclear behavior. In one interesting study it was “shown” that it “solved” a maze. In nature it is found on shaded rotting wood in forests, in woodlands, and even in treed suburbs. It is short lived, appearing after a soaking rain and disintegrating in just a few days.
Many-headed slime lives in rotting wood feeding on fungi and bacteria. In late summer and fall, after a soaking rain, it creeps to the surface of the substrate. It appears as a bright yellow, many-branched network of veins that creep along the surface. Protoplasm can be seen streaming within the veins. When exposed to light it produces spore-bearing structures (sporangia). The sporangia differ from other slime molds in having multiple heads, hence the common name many-headed slime.