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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What’s this beetle?
Location: City limits of Atascadero, California, 93422
December 16, 2014 12:23 am
I have never seen a beetle like this in all my life living in California.
My cat found it on our porch during a rain storm in the early evening today (12/15/14).
It looked about 1 inch x 1.5 inch in size and had a reddish shiny color to it’s back.
It wasn’t “aggressive” but acted rather sluggish when the cat was playing with it. It did not try to fly off.
Can you identify this beetle?
Signature: Maria

Rain Beetle

Rain Beetle

Our Automated Response:  Thank you for submitting your identification request.
Please understand that we have a very small staff that does this as a labor of love. We cannot answer all submissions (not by a long shot). But we’ll do the best we can!

I have since identified the beetle in the pictures that I submitted to your website.  It is a female Rain Beetle (Pleocoma).
Thanks for all you do.
Maria Smith

Rain Beetle

Rain Beetle

Dear Maria,
We are happy that you identified your Rain Beetle in the family Pleocomidae.  This fascinating family is limited to the western parts of North America and they have a marvelous life cycle.  Your individual is a male.  The females are flightless and they do not leave their burrows, spending their entire lives many feet underground.  Males appear with the rains.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

December 15, 2014
Book Review:  A Huntsman Spider in My House by Michelle Ray and illustrated by Sylvie Ashford
We quickly jumped on the opportunity to review Michelle Ray’s new children’s book and we are pleased to endorse the message it conveys.  The home does contain many unwelcome pests, but there are also many beneficial species that either accidentally or purposely find themselves inside.  Huntsman Spiders are common in Australia, and they are generally considered benign creatures that do no harm to human inhabitants, yet they are frequently subject to unnecessary carnage because they are large and scary appearing to the uninformed public.  The young, nameless female protagonist of Sylvie Ashford’s charming book speaks in rhyme as she explains the habits of Huntsman Spiders to children as well as to the adults that read the book aloud.  Our personal favorite of all of Sylvie Ashford’s colorful illustrations is the one that accompanies the text “I could squash him with my shoe, but he’s not hurting me.”  We thoroughly endorse educating young children to have more tolerance for the lower beasts in hope of reducing Unnecessary Carnage.  This book is suitable for young children learning to read and it has particular relevance for Australian children.  This book is a nice stocking stuffer.

Unnecessary Carnage averted:  "I could squash him with my shoe, but he's not hurting me."  Illustration by Sylvie Ashford

Unnecessary Carnage averted: “I could squash him with my shoe, but he’s not hurting me.” Illustration by Sylvie Ashford

Subject: Huntsman Spider Children’s Book Review Request
November 29, 2014 12:43 am
Hi Daniel
I hope you are well.
My name is Michelle Ray and I am a childrens author from Sydney, Australia.
I would like to ask if you would consider writing an honest review on your blog of my new children’s picture book titled ‘A Huntsman Spider In My House’ for 0-5 years, it is educational, charmingly illustrated and fun.
I would love to send you a copy.
I love your blog, book and ethos and support your efforts to promote the life of bugs and spiders of course!
If you are willing, I will pop one in the post to you – please let me know where to send it and if you have any other thoughts.
I hope to hear from you,
best wishes,
Michelle Ray
Signature: Michelle Ray

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this bug??
Location: San Angelo, Texas
November 28, 2014 11:54 pm
I live in West Texas, and this little guy was making a HORRIFICALLY loud continuous chirping sound for hours until we found him. Can you identify it for us?
Signature: Delilah

Thermometer Cricket

Thermometer Cricket

Dear Delilah,
Though you letter is not clear about the specific location, we are speculating that based on the information you provided that this Snowy Tree Cricket was found inside the home, hence the rigorous and lengthy search.  Snowy Tree Crickets are found in much of North America.  Snowy Tree Crickets are also known as Thermometer Crickets.  Charles Hogue, in his landmark book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin writes that you can tell the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit “if one counts the number of chirps in 13 seconds and adds 40.”  According to BugGuide:  “These are the crickets you hear in movies and on TV when they want to show that it’s out in nature and very quiet.”  Lowering the thermostat will slow the chirping.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Lovely green bug crawled out of my salad!
Location: Bronx, NY
November 27, 2014 7:35 pm
Hi! I found this guy on my salad plate on Thanksgiving. It was an Earthboubd Farms arugula salad. My hostess assured me the greens had come right out of the box. We are in the Bronx & I don’t want to put him outside for fear of the cold. I placed him on a houseplant & he relocated himself to a sweet potato that he was reluctant to leave. What is he??
Signature: Priscilla

Say's Stink Bug

Say’s Stink Bug

Dear Priscilla,
This Stink Bug looks like a Say’s Stink Bug,
Chlorochroa sayi, a species that is found, according to BugGuide, west of the Mississippi River.  We could not find Earthboubd Farms, but seeing as the n is next to the b on the keyboard, we are assuming you made a typographical error and are referring to an organic farm in California known for packaged, prewashed greens.  This should be a lesson to all folks who buy prewashed greens that it doesn’t hurt to do a quick once over to ensure there is no unwanted protein in the salad. 


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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Epic bug battle
Location: Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, Northeastern Oregon, in a river canyon
August 14, 2014 6:56 pm
Dear bugman,
In late April of 2009, my best friend and I went backpacking in the remote Wenaha-Tucannon wilderness of Northeastern Oregon, along the Wenaha river canyon. It was a spectacular trip made even more spectacular when it ended in near disaster; during a flash flood, my backpack with all of its photographic equipment was swept away and we narrowly escaped the same fate. Remarkably, the backpack was found one month ago by some hikers who pulled out one of the photo memory cards and brought it to the local sheriff, who tracked me down on facebook.
ANYWAYS, during the intervening 5 years, one of our greatest regrets about losing the photos was that we had witnessed an epic struggle between the largest spider I’ve ever seen in Oregon, and an enormous (for Oregon) long, cylindrical fly with a bright orange head that I had never seen before and couldn’t easily identify with online searches. We doubted anyone would ever believe how completely legendary and unbelievable the struggle was as these two titans locked themselves into a dance of death for at least 10 minutes. They did not care that we were there one bit. The battle was too fierce. We were able to get right up next to them with cameras and take photos….. and now we finally have those photos back! Unfortunately, my good camera with a macro lens was permanently lost, so the photos we have are only ‘decent,’ but I think they will work. I’ll be forever grateful if you can help give even more life to this newly revived fabled cha pter of my life by identifying these two mighty contestants.
Thanks so much,
John Felder
P.S. If it helps, I also have a low quality video – no fine details in focus but it give a better sense of the size because of the movement that’s visible.
Signature: John Felder

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Dear John,
If forced to choose which we are more impressed with, your amazing images or your fantastic story, we are going to have to go with the story, which is why we are featuring this posting on our scrolling feature bar.  The fact that you witnessed this “Epic Bug Battle” and then lost the images and then reclaimed the images after five years is truly an amazing story worth relaying.  The spider is a Wolf Spider in the family Lycosidae, and based on the size and eye arrangement (see BugGuide) we believe it is in the genus
Hogna.  The Carolina Wolf Spider, Hogna carolinensis, is found in Oregon, and you can see images of it on BugGuide which states:  “Considered to be the largest wolf spider in North America.” The Carolina Wolf Spider is also represented on the Spiders.Us site which states:  “This species is uncommon in the Pacific Northwest, but we have included those states in our range listing because it is still possible to find them there.”  We are going to check with spider expert Mandy Howe to get her opinion on the species.  The prey is a Giant Stonefly in the genus Pteronarcys, and it is most likely the California SalmonflyPteronarcys californica.  Here is an image from BugGuide.  One interesting note is that this sighting obviously occurred near the river, which is the correct habitat for the California Salmonfly, however, Spiders.Us indicates of the Carolina Wolf Spider:  “This spider is typically found in arid habitats such as deserts, prairies, glades, and open fields and pastures.”  Thanks again for providing your fascinating story for the entertainment and awe of our readership.  On a final note, we really hope we hear back from Mandy regarding the identity of this Wolf Spider because it may represent and new or little documented species as it was observed in such a remote location.

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Hi Eric,
This is a truly amazing story with some wonderful images.  I’m not certain how good you are with Spiders, but since you lived in Oregon, I am hoping you can provide some input.  Can you confirm or correct the identity of this Wolf Spider:  Carolina Wolf Spider or other???  I have also contacted Mandy Howe.

Eric Eaton Disagrees
Hi, Daniel:
Definitely “other.”  I’m not even sure there are any recent records of the Carolina Wolf Spider from Oregon.  Hopefully Mandy can put it to genus.

Ed. Note:  We are guessing that Eric agrees that this is a Wolf Spider, but not that it is a Carolina Wolf Spider.

Wow!  Thanks so much!!!!
I found the salmonfly online shortly after I submitted the photo and then I felt guilty for potentially wasting your time, so I’m glad you liked it!!!
A couple of things that add up based on what you’ve told me:
1) the habitat for Hogna Carolinensis:  the area around the Wenaha river is usually quite arid in terms of ambient humidity throughout the year and probably rainfall as well.  It’s the type of canyon that’s covered in dry brown grasses, rocks, and pine trees in the gulches but not on the exposed ridges.  In spring, the river swells from the melting snowfall of winter in the mountains, but rain is usually fairly sparse. EXCEPT for the week we were there, when it rained almost nonstop, causing the flood conditions and raising the river to probably historic levels.  So I think that if Hogna Carolinensis likes arid conditions, it probably likes the Wenaha area.
2). From what I’ve read, emergence of salmonfly larvae from the water tends to occur when rivers are at peak or rapid flow, which was definitely the case at the time we were there, further confirming the identity of the salmonfly.
I am going to send you a link to the (shoddy) video I have. Quality is poor but you can see their movements as they battle. Very compelling.
The hikers who found my pack were unable to open the rusted body of my metal dSLR to remove the memory card, so we unfortunately only have the lower quality images that my friend took with his plastic lower-megapixel point and shoot. Otherwise, we would have glorious, high definition, macro lens shots and video, but at least we have something.
Thanks again for the help and for featuring the story. You guys are great. I’ll send a link to the video when I get home.

Here it is:

Thanks for the update John.  We were under the impression that the images you sent were from the card retrieved from the missing camera.  Your most recent email indicates that you were always in the possession of the images.  Do you by chance have a dorsal view looking down on the top of the spider?

No no, your initial impression was correct.  I only just got the images this week after not having them for 5 years.
What I was attempting to convey is that there were two cameras in the missing backpack and the hikers who found it only retrieved the memory card from one of the cameras, which happened to be the poorer quality one.  If they had been able to get the images out of the other camera (they didn’t because it was rusted shut and they couldn’t get the memory card out and didn’t want to carry out the entire camera), we would have been dealing with better quality images.  That’s all.  The story, as it is posted on your website, is completely accurate.
Here are the closest I have to a dorsal view (focus not great):

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Wolf Spider eats Giant Salmonfly

Thanks for the clarification.  Bummer:  Too bad they didn’t bust the camera body to get the memory card.  Thanks for providing the dorsal view.  We wanted to be able to show the markings on the carapace.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: New Logo
August 5, 2014 10:06 pm
I am a graphic designer trying to build up a portfolio. I’ve been enjoying your site for years; you even once posted a pic of a Luna moth I took. I’d like to offer my services free of charge, to make a new header graphic for your site. If you’d be interested, please let me know!
Signature: Elizabeth Goldberg

Bugman Daniel Marlos on What's That Bug? quilt

Bugman Daniel Marlos on What’s That Bug? quilt

Thanks for the offer Elizabeth, but the scrawly What’s That Bug? logo is actually derived from the embroidered name on a quilt made by Daniel, and it has sentimental value.  If we have a chance, we will take an image of that embroidered design to post.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination