From the monthly archives: "July 2003"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

We have seen this big nasty bug around and IN our house. It is about 3-4 inches long, not including the stinger (have also seen one that was maybe 1.5 inches). It looks similar to the stag bug that "Freaked Out in Mass" asked about last week…has the same pinchers in the front and the same body type, but the ones here are a lot bigger, black, have a bigger butt and a long needle-type stinger out the back thats about 2-3 inches long. They put off some really nasty smelling stuff when threatened (and when squashed of course) and someone around here told my husband they are a vinegar-something-or-another bug and not poisonous. We are in west Texas. I think it is probably some type of beetle (makes a very loud crunch when you squash it). Most of the ones I have seen have not looked aggressive, except for the little one we saw…it had its stinger up and was running towards my 2 year old daughter outside. They look horrible and freak me out!!! I have found 3 in my house and I have 3 small children. What is this thing, how harmful is it, and how do I keep it out of my house?! Thank you Bugman!!!
Big Nasty Bug Hater

Dear Big Bug Hater,
Might be a whip scorpion, not a true scorpion and actually quite harmless. They are also called vinegaroons.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi – We seem to be attracting a type of fly into our house that I’ve never seen before; It’s about 2cm long. Has a yellow & black striped abdomen approx 1cm & quite fat. A brown beetle like back between its head and abdomen 6 Brown legs 2 very big browny transparent wings large eyes with a central yellow stripe between thema pointy chin with a little feeler hanging centrally under it. Does it sound familiar…??? Hope you can help.
Regards,
Anthony

Dear Anthony,
There are some types of flies which mimic bees, and are colored as you describe. They belong
to the Family Syrphidae and are called Flower Flies. They are beneficial to gardeners.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Bugman, I found what I have identified as a centipede but im not sure what kind. I found it on a lady’s porch. It is about 6" long and about the width of a mans index finger, or mine anyways. Color is dark brown and has two sets of legs for each body segment. I live on the coast of North Carolina and have never seen a centipede anywhere close to this size. Is this native to this area?…is it even native to the U.S.? I can take some pictures of it and send them in if this would help or if you are interested in seeing it.
Thank you

Dear Erik,
Please send the photos. There is a large desert centipede known as Scolopendra heros. S. heros has three subspecies. The S. heros "family" are the only centipedes in the continental United
States that can attain lengths larger than 8 inches. They are normally reported from desert areas especially Oklahoma and Texas, but they are also kept as pets by people. Perhaps your
specimen escaped or perhaps the range is much greater than expected. We would very much like to see a photo. For your information, centipedes have only one pair of legs per segment, and millipedes have two pairs per segment.
Daniel

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

While walking with the kids by the river, I found the biggest bug I’ve ever seen. After I put in a cup and brought it home, we put it in a large jar. Then the task of looking up what the heck the bug was. Turns out, via your web site I found it, after about a half hour of searching google. Sure enough its a Dobson fly! Thank you so much for the information. The kids think its cool and scary at the same time, I’ve told them it’s harmless.
Judy Lillie,
Wausau Wisconsin

Yes Judy, the Dobsonfly is harmless. I’m so glad you found our site helpful. We have been getting numerous letters about Dobsonflies. Apparently, there was a dearth of information, or at least difficult to locate information on them before we went online. Have a nice day and keep appreciating insects for their amazing diversity and beauty. Might I recommend a video called "Microcosmos" that has amazing footage of insects, though unfortunately, no Dobsonflies. Have a nice day.
Daniel

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I found a very interesting bug on my sunflowers, it resembles a lady bug in size and shape, but the body, when I found it, was a bright gold, but the wings are a translucent opalescent color. It caught my eye because I thought it was a shiny gold bead stuck to the leaf. When I put the bug in a jar, its color changed to a ladybug red, but without the black dots. I would send a picture, but not able to get one scanned. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and know a ladybug when I see it, but I have never seen a gold ladybug, or a gold ANY bug.
Thanks
Dear Joanni,
I love when someone writes in about a new insect to add to our list. You have found a Tortoise Beetle, also known as a Gold Bug, probably Coptocycla aurichalcea var. bicolor, also known as Metriona bicolor. Lutz quotes Harris as saying “When living it has the power of changing its hues, at one time appearing only of a dull yellow color, and at other times shining with the splendor of polished brass or gold, tinged sometimes also with variable tints of pearl. The wing-covers, the parts wihch exhibit a change of color, are lined beneath with an orange colored paint, which seems to be filled with little vessels; and these are probably the source of the changeable brilliancy of the insect.” Lutz also writes that the “larva are called peddlers” because they carry their cast off skins after molting, appearing like a bit of mud or bird dropping. They eat sweet potato and Convolvulaceae, members of the morning glory family.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I found a very interesting bug on my sunflowers, it resembles a lady bug in size and shape, but the body, when I found it, was a bright gold, but the wings are a translucent opalescent color. It caught my eye because I thought it was a shiny gold bead stuck to the leaf. When I put the bug in a jar, its color changed to a ladybug red, but without the black dots. I would send a picture, but not able to get one scanned. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and know a ladybug when I see it, but I have never seen a gold ladybug, or a gold ANY bug.
Thanks
Dear Joanni,
I love when someone writes in about a new insect to add to our list. You have found a Tortoise Beetle, also known as a Gold Bug, probably Coptocycla aurichalcea var. bicolor, also known as Metriona bicolor. Lutz quotes Harris as saying "When living it has the power of changing its hues, at one ti
me appearing only of a dull yellow color, and at other times shining with the splendor of polished brass or gold, tinged sometmes also with variable tints of pearl. The wing-covers, the parts wihch exhibit a change of color, are lined beneath with an orange colored paint, which seems to be filled with little vessels; and these are probably the source of the changeable brilliancy of the insect." Lutz also writes that the "larva are called peddlers" because they carry their cast off skins after molting, appearing like a bit of mud or bird dropping. They eat sweet potato and Convolvulaceae, members of the morning glory family.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination