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

More about the aphids:
Many of you read with disgust the following account about the aphids found in a sandwich purchased from Wild Oats on Sunday. On Monday, we called the offending store and spoke to the manager, who apologized for the infestation and promised to look into the matter. Sharon and I returned to the rocky waters and ordered a couple of new sandwiches, which we got sans lettuce. And we were happy to meet Bobby, the deli counter guy who is a self-described "lettuce nazi." I hope he’s also an "aphid nazi."

April 15, 2002

Uninvited Guest
I didn’t write "What’s That Bug?," because when I discovered this critter, "What’s That Bug?" was sitting right next to me.
For those of you who didn’t hear my piercing screams last night (which carried for miles), the picture above shows the extra protein which was included in a turkey sandwich which I’d purchased from Wild Oats in Pasadena last night. The hitchhiker was immediately identified as an aphid. Also included within the two whole wheat slices was a deader version of this critter, which is what prompted a more thorough investigation of the meal in the first place.
Buff Charlie, who eats both lunch and dinner daily at this fine natural grocery store, strode powerfully to the store and got to the bottom of the infestation. He chastised the staff, and forced them to remove all lettuce from the deli section. "It’s a good idea to always look at your food before eating it," a friendly employee advised him.
That’s good advice, especially when munching on produce. Here in the AH backyard, our lettuce is home to all manner of hungry beasts. Rhonda is always out smushing slugs and grasshoppers. But once our garden produce enters the home, we are no longer playing games with the pests. They are removed, completely. None are pardoned.
I can only wonder why Wild Oats doesn’t share this philosophy of cleanliness and death. Is this what "organic" means these days?

Thanks, Daniel, for grossing me out even more! Buggy anal sugar! EWWW! This unsolicitated letter was received this morning:

Dear American Homebody,
Though no official question has been posed, I thought it was my duty to inform you of some aphid facts since your very recent experience with tainted lettuce on a store bought, organic sandwich. No one knows better than Hogue, who writes "Aphids (Family Aphidae) Aphids are notorious pests of cultivated plants. Prolific breeders, they swiftly spread over the tender growing tips of prize roses and other plants, from which they withdraw large quantities of sap. The result is a wilted, curled, and unsightly mass of leaves or a dead plant. The aphid’s harm is increased by its habit of copiously excreting from the anus a sugary solution called ‘honeydew,’ which covers the host plant with a sticky unsightly residue that often becomes blackened with a growth of sooty mold. Aphids also transmit viral diseases to plants. … Aphids are remarkable for their peculiar modes of reproduction and development, which involve polymorphism (the capability of assuming different body forms). They display life cycles so complicated and varied that they are impossible to summarize here. Parthenogenesis (the development of unfertilized eggs), viviparity (the bearing of live young), and winged and wingless generations are common reproductive phenomena."
One can only guess that the designer store in question found it too costly to clean their organic lettuce in Evian, so they neglected to do so at all to keep the harmful tap water chemicals from their chemical free produce.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

WHAT KIND OF BUGS ARE THESE??? THEY ARE BLACK WITH TWO RED STRIPES ON THE WINGS AND THEY LOOK LIKE A FIREFLY. WE WERE TOLD THAT THEY ARE A TYPE OF BEETLE, BUT ARE UNABLE TO FIND THEM IN ANY BOOK. THEY ARE COMING FROM A ROTTING ELM TREE. THERE IS ALSO WATER DAMAGE TO THE HOUSE IF THIS HELPS IDENTIFY THEM

Dear Stat,
Without more concrete information regarding size and orientation of the stripes, vertical versus horizontal, it would be difficult to identify your bug. Wood boring beetles are often of the longhorn variety, and though they are not true beetles, the box elder bug (Leptocoris trivittatus) might be your culprit, but they eat leaves, not rotting wood. Rove beetles look like fireflies, but their wings are hidden. They might lurk around rotting wood, searching for soft succulent prey. Can you send a photo?

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I live in a bi-level home, and have been there for 7 years now. All of a sudden this year I have a new bug aprox 3/16 long with 6 legs and 2 antenna, 1 on each side of what looks like an anteater’s snout. I have a coal stove in my finished basement so it is warm there. These bugs seem to be mostly on one of two white throw rugs in the middle of the floor, or can be found on the concrete floor next to any white dry wall. They appear to have a short life span, crawl only, no jumping, and so far have not been found upstairs. What are they and how do I get rid of them? Oh yeah. they are brown in color.
thank you
Bob Whitford

Dear Bob,
Based on your description, I suspect you may have a weevil infestation. Weevils are the world’s largest family of animals, numbering in excess of 35,000 members worldwide, so exact identification based on a verbal description is nearly impossible. They are small beetles with the front part of the head elongated into a snout or proboscis. Members of the family include pantry beetles which find their way into grain products, munching happily and unnoticed, and reproducing in vast quantities. Here is the frightening part. Hogue states that "several species act as intermediate hosts and vectors of the human tapeworms Hymenopepis nana and H. diminuta. People acquire infections by ingesting beetles containing the larval (or cysticercoid) stages of the tapeworm, which will often remain viable in infested corn meal and wheat flour that is undercooked."

Robert responds:
You are correct, I was just visited today by our local exterminator. In the fall I put a bag of scratch grain that was given to me in my
basement so I could feed the spring turkeys. Well, looks like I get to see more than just turkeys around my house. His solution is to remove the grain & clean the area. This should stop the bug problem. Do you agree?

To which "What’s That Bug?" replies:
Congratulations Robert.
Cleaning out the grain in the basement is a good start. Hopefully, the pantry beetles did not get as far as the kitchen. They can foul even the best homemaker’s flour and other grain products. I have even found weevils in the dry mushrooms.
Have a nice day.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination