From the monthly archives: "October 2002"
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

yucky bugs
Surely you can help!?!
There are about 2000 of these living on my tree. Half of them seem to have just "hatched", half are mature. They don’t appear to be harming anything, just hanging out, migrating from the tree to the lawn and back again . Do you know what they are? Cause for concern?
Don and Elke (and Anna now too)

Dear Don, Elke and Anna
Your insect is a box elder bug (Leptocoris trivittatus) which is known to live in colonies of both adults which have wings and the nymph stage which is wingless. We at What’s That Bug? have gotten questions about this garden pest in the past. Here is an excerpt from a recent reply which should also apply to your situation.
On http://www.pma.edmonton.ab.ca it says, "When present in large enough numbers Box Elder Bugs can do damage to Manitoba Maple trees. Most people call us in the fall because they are curious about the large numbers on the walls of their houses or concerned about the numbers that are getting in the houses. Washing them off the walls of the house with a blast of cold water from a hose may help. The only way to ensure that they do not get inside the house is to fill in all cracks where they could be getting in, a rather daunting and expensive task."

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination