From the yearly archives: "2002"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi Daniel,
I’m having an ongoing problem with what I’m told are grubs in my St. Augustin grass. Each summer I get these patches which turn yellow/ brown and die out, just as if I hadn’t watered them in ages, which is, of course, not the case. Apparently they eat the roots of the grass causing the tops to die. I have usually spread grub killer and that seems to take care of it. The problem is that the grub killer, called "Seven," I believe, is super toxic, indicating the need to wear socks, long pants, gloves, respirator (my addition), etc. Do you know of any similar remedy for grubs that would not be so environmentally horrendous? I have three cats who live in this grass daily and I don’t want one of them to start growing an extra head or some other such gruesome mutation. Caroline, a Manx, already has all the extra toes she can handle.
Thanks,
Kathleen (a.k.a. Toxic Avenger)

Dear Kathleen,
I can think of three possible culprits for your St. Agustine grass problem, the likliest one being the chinch bug, Blissus insularis, small gray-black insects that suck plant juices from grass blades, especially St. Agustine grass, especially in hot weather. To confirm chinch bugs, according to the Western Garden Book , push a bottomless can into the soil just where the grass is beginning to turn brown. Fill can with water, If lawn is infested, chinch bugs will float to the surface. Diazinon and chlorpyrifos are chemical controls. According to Hogue, the Southern Chinch Bug feeds on several grasses, but Saint Augustine is by far the preferred host plant. The insect’s feeding may cause considerable damage: the grass becomes dwarfed, turns yellow and then brown, and dies. Because of the tendency of the species to form aggregations, the symptoms of attack are usually visible in scattered patches. The species is not a native. It first appeared in the Los Angeles area in the late 1960’s, having come from the southeastern states. It produces two generations per year and is most abundant in midsummer. Two additional possible culprits that require the same chemical control are Sod Webworms and beetle grubs. If you see whitish to buff colored moths flying around the lawn in a zigzag pattern at night, check for their larvae. To confirm Sod Webworms, drench area of lawn with a solution of 1 tablespoon dishwashing soap diluted in 1 gallon of water. Larvae will come to surface. Treat if there are 15 or more webworms per square yard.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear Mr. Bug Man,
These live in my compost pile. They seem to be good for the decomposition, because they eat the contents of the pile and excrete them in a much-broken-down-form. But: what the hell? Big as my pinkie. Jerusalem Cricket?
Thanks,
Sean Dungan



Dear Sean,
Despite the suspiciously similar appearance to the killer "graboids" from the movie Tremors, your grub is just a grub, in this case the larval form of the Green Fruit Beetle (Cotinus mutabilis). Any observant insect watcher in Southern California, Arizona or Mexico has surely seen these enormous metalic green scarabs which take flight in August and September, buzzing noisily and circling clumsily in their search for fruit, namely figs, peaches, apricots, nectarines, grapes and cactus fruit which is the wild host plant. Originally native to Arizona and New Mexico, the beetle has moved west and is now relatively common in the Los Angeles Basin. Eggs are laid in compost piles, and the grubs, which can reach 2 inches in length, are sometimes called "crawly-backs" because of their method of locomotion, which involves undulating the body and pushing against the substratum with short stout bristles on the back of the thorax. The grubs feed on decaying vegetation, and are beneficial to the compost pile.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi:
I live in Overland Park, KS and came across this critter in the living room, of all places! I assume that the oncoming cold of winter is driving many bugs to seek food and warmth inside. This guy seemed harmless enough. I released him back outside in the garden.
Can you tell me what this bug is?
Thanks!
John Derry
Overland Park, KS

Dear John,
You just released a species of Stink Bug into your yard. They are true bugs, and as such, have sucking mouth parts which they use to extract the life giving juices from plants. Because of this habit of feeding, they are considered injurious and are garden pests, consuming a wide variety of edible and ornamental cultivated plants. They are sometimes attracted to lights, which could explain its presence in your home. The Stink Bugs (Family Pentatomidae) secrete a noxious odor from glands on the thorax, hence their common name.

Thanks for the informative reply…now I gotta go get a flashlight and git that sucker!
-john

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I have been searching the web to see if I could find out what these weird, ugly bugs are that we have seen in our house. Alex wrote to you on 6/2/02 and describe the exact things we have. These bugs were NOT on the links you had attached. We live in Raleigh, NC. The bugs are FAST! I mean you see them and then they are gone. I thought is was some form of millipede or centipede, but I haven’t been able to close enough to one to find out. They have MORE than 8 legs and the legs are at least two jointed because they hold the bug up off the ground like a spider more than a centipede or millipede. They are between 2 and 4 inches long. The legs are slender and black and I honestly haven’t seen too much of the body except that it is thin, almost like it is only there to attach the legs. Thanks for any help you can give us.

Dear Liana,
I have contacted our local Museum of Natural History, and the entomologist I spoke with is also stumped. However, he did foreward this contact person in your area who might be able to assist in your identification. The really confusing part of your description is the size of your creature. 4-5 inches is huge, not for the tropics, but for the continental U.S. at least. The only possibility I have if your description is accurate, is that somehow you have acquired an exotic import that is happy with its new environment, and that is reproducing and moving with you from house to house, perhaps when you pack. Has either you or your roommate been to the Amazon, Sub-Saharan Africa, or Tropical Asia? Something fitting your description could originate in any of those places. Please keep us informed if you ever get a proper identification, or better yet, send us a photo of the creature if possible. You might also want to write to www.cryptozoology.com because those folk specialize in strange sightings. Here is the reply I got from Brian at the Natural History Museum:

Hi Daniel
Thanks for sending the letters. There is a guy in North Carolina who specializes in Millipedes named Rowland Shelley. He’s at the North Carolina State Museum (at least as of 1998) P.O.Box 27647, Raleigh 27611. Unfortunately I don’t have a phone number or e-mail but perhaps a website for this college will list his number(s) or someone there can forward these messages to him, etc… That’s all I could come up with for now! GOOD LUCK!! Brian Harris ___________________________________
Brian P. Harris
Entomology Section
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I have been searching the web to see if I could find out what these weird, ugly bugs are that we have seen in our house. Alex wrote to you on 6/2/02 and describe the exact things we have. These bugs were NOT on the links you had attached. We live in Raleigh, NC. The bugs are FAST! I mean you see them and then they are gone. I thought is was some form of millipede or centipede, but I haven’t been able to close enough to one to find out. They have MORE than 8 legs and the legs are at least two jointed because they hold the bug up off the ground like a spider more than a centipede or millipede. They are between 2 and 4 inches long. The legs are slender and black and I honestly haven’t seen too much of the body except that it is thin, almost like it is only there to attach the legs. Thanks for any help you can give us.

Dear Liana,
I have contacted our local Museum of Natural History, and the entomologist I spoke with is also stumped. However, he did foreward this contact person in your area who might be able to assist in your identification. The really confusing part of your description is the size of your creature. 4-5 inches is huge, not for the tropics, but for the continental U.S. at least. The only possibility I have if your description is accurate, is that somehow you have acquired an exotic import that is happy with its new environment, and that is reproducing and moving with you from house to house, perhaps when you pack. Has either you or your roommate been to the Amazon, Sub-Saharan Africa, or Tropical Asia? Something fitting your description could originate in any of those places. Please keep us informed if you ever get a proper identification, or better yet, send us a photo of the creature if possible. You might also want to write to www.cryptozoology.com because those folk specialize in strange sightings. Here is the reply I got from Brian at the Natural History Museum:

Hi Daniel
Thanks for sending the letters. There is a guy in North Carolina who specializes in Millipedes named Rowland Shelley. He’s at the North Carolina State Museum (at least as of 1998) P.O.Box 27647, Raleigh 27611. Unfortunately I don’t have a phone number or e-mail but perhaps a website for this college will list his number(s) or someone there can forward these messages to him, etc… That’s all I could come up with for now! GOOD LUCK!! Brian Harris ___________________________________
Brian P. Harris
Entomology Section
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

My husband and I have been seeing a type of bug that we can’t identify. They are black bugs, about 1/2 centimeter in size. We never seem to see them flying, they usually are just sitting on the walls. They sort of resemble tiny houseflies, except that they don’t have large eyes. I have attached a basic drawing of one.
We started seeing these a few weeks ago when my husband was doing some work in the basement. There was an open drain in the floor which was starting to smell. It was at that time we noticed a few of these bugs. So my husband cemented over the drain. That was a couple weeks ago and we are still seeing the bugs. They don’t seem to be attracted to food or garbage or anything in particular. We just see them on the walls. When we go to kill them, they leave a charcoal-like smudge on the wall (I don’t know if that info helps at all – its just something I noticed). Please help us figure out what these bugs are and the best way to get rid of them!
Thanks!
Holly Kramer

Dear Holly,
You have Bathroom Flies, Clogmia albipunctata, which belong to the Moth Fly family Psychodidae. They are small, harmless gnats that are often noticed indoors in damp places, especially bathrooms and more specifically showers. The brown wormlike larvae develop in the sludgy organic muck that accumulates outdoors in shallow lpools and under artificial conditions, in sink traps, drains, and dead-flow areas in household plumbing. Clean out the pipes.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination