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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Star Trek brain eater
Location: Mississippi River, central Louisiana
March 28, 2015 5:14 pm
Don’t go near the water! Found this thing in the Bayou of central Louisiana at the end of March. My research has turned up some similar creepy crawlies but nothing quite the same. What is it?
Signature: Boatswain

Water Tiger and Mosquito Tumbler

Giant Water Scavenger Beetle Larva and Mosquito Tumbler

Dear Boatswain,
We absolutely love your colorful description of what we originally thought was a Water Tiger, the aquatic larva of a Predaceous Diving Beetle in the family Dytiscidae, but once we searched BugGuide and compared your individual to images of larvae of Giant Water Scavenger Beetles in the family Hydrophilidae, we determined that was the correct identification for your creature.  According to BugGuide contributor Andrew Tluczek:  “I have a masters in Entomology and have worked with aquatic insects. It is a Hydrophilidae. The mandibles have ‘teeth’ which Dytiscidae larvae do not have.”  Your individual has “teeth” on the mandibles, and other research turned up additional physical similarities.
  According to the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee Field Station site:  “WSB [Water Scavenger Beetles] larvae are described as ‘sluggish’ and are found crawling on the pond floor or climbing on underwater vegetation. The larvae is a ‘couch-potato’ version of the sleek PDB [Predaceous Diving Beetle] larvae/ water tigers (pictured) (they sometimes share the ‘water tiger’ moniker). WSB larvae often have paired, gill-like structures protruding from the sides of their abdomens. Their feeding category is ‘engulfer-predator;’ they use their hollow jaws to suck out the juices of their prey. Their food-list includes their brethren; they love mosquito larvae but will go after mini-fish and so are an unwelcome addition to a koi pond. Larvae back their abdomen up to the water’s surface and take in air through spiracles (pores) at its tip. They spend a month underwater as larvae and about 12 days pupating in a cell in moist soil.”  That information thrilled us as we can now safely use the term Water Tiger to describe the larvae of aquatic beetles in both families.  According to Bugwood:  “Larvae, which occur in water, have an elongate body and large dark head with prominent curved jaws. Elongated spiracles through which they acquire oxygen arise from the end of the abdomen. … The immature stage is a predator, working by ambush to lie in wait, seizing and crushing prey that comes within reach. Most of their diet is made up of small insects and other aquatic invertebrates. However, their jaws are quite powerful allowing them to consume snails whole as well as catch large prey such as tadpoles and small fish.”  A Mosquito Tumbler, the pupa of a Mosquito, is visible in two of your images.  We have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for April 2015.

Water Tiger and Mosquito Tumbler (front and center)

Water Tiger and Mosquito Tumbler (front and center)

Water Tiger

Giant Water Scavenger Beetle Larva

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Calosoma?
Location: Los Angeles
March 18, 2015 4:50 pm
Found the way! I posted on the blog few minutes ago.
Is the bug in the pictures a Calosoma?
I found them in my backyard in West Central Los Angeles.
Thank you!
Signature: Simona

Caterpillar Hunter

Caterpillar Hunter

Hi Simona,
We agree that this is a Caterpillar in the genus
Calosoma, probably Calosoma semilaeve, which we named Bug of the Month in May 2008 because of the sudden appearance of large numbers of the beetles in Southern California.  For several years, we have noticed increasing numbers of Whitelined Sphinx Moths and their caterpillars might also be getting more plentiful in the area, providing a food source for the Caterpillar Hunters and an increase in their populations as well.  These cyclical appearances are all part of nature dealing with bountiful food supplies, and then dearths of sightings when food is scarce.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: cockroach??
Location: new orleans LA
March 15, 2015 9:53 am
saw this at the entrance to a winn dixie grocery store today, lloks like a cockroach but no antenae?.. looked on LSU ag site cant find anything… ideas?
Signature: Aaron Robinson



Dear Aaron,
This Giant Water Bug is a Toe-Biter, an aquatic, predatory True Bug, not a Cockroach which is an opportunistic scavenger, or at least the few species of Cockroaches that infest human homes are opportunistic scavengers.  Also known as Electric Light Bugs because they are often attracted to the bright lights of sporting events, especially those located near swamps, ponds and other fresh water bodies of water, Toe-Biters earned their more colorful common name because they frequently bite the toes of waders in natural bodies of water.  Though aquatic, Toe-Biters are powerful fliers as well, enabling them to fly to a new habitat if their pond dries out.  Larger relatives are eaten in Thailand.  Toe-Biters are one of our most common identification requests.

Fantastic quick response very grateful for that… Ive been in NOLA for 10 years and I thought I have seen most everything haha… very informative I appreciate your time…. is it odd to see them away from water especially in front of a grocery store?.. one last… are they dangerous if bitten.
thanks again for your time !!
Aaron R

Allegedly painful, but not dangerous, though people are allergic to most things these days.


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Subject: Migrating Painted Ladies
Location: Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
February 14, 2015 10:00 AM
Though we have received many images recently from our readers, we made a decision to select our Bug of the Month for March 2015 from our own images because of the significant seasonal migration of Painted Ladies this year.  According to Julian Donahue, the Painted Ladies are: “particularly active on the wing now, and most appear to be migrating, pausing to nectar on their way farther north.” The Painted Lady,
Vanessa cardui, is a medium sized orange butterfly with a mottled wing pattern and distinctive “eye spots” on the underwings. Painted Ladies were seen taking nectar from the pictured Mule Fat or Baccharis salicifolia, Coastal Bush Sunflower and Manroot. Caterpillars feed on both native and non-native leaves, and the Arroyo Lupine, that is currently blooming, is one native host plant.

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown Spider
Location: Malawi, Africa
December 25, 2014 10:52 pm
I live in Malawi, Africa. Recently I have moved to a more rural part of the country than what I have been previously acquainted with. There are many unknown bugs to me here. Although I do not have a particular fondness of these creatures, my curiosity has got the better of me. Attached is a picture of a large spider. I believe it is typically nocturnal. It moves very fast and has dangerous fangs. The largest one I know of was three inches. The people here do not have a name for it in English, in the native tongue it is called “Chichotsa Mfumu”. Which being translated means, “The Thing That Drives the Chief From His Chair”. Like I said earlier, I am curious and would like to know if it has an English name.
Thank you for your time,
Signature: Sarah – Malawi, Africa

Solifugid:  The Thing that Drives the Chief from His Chair

Solifugid: The Thing that Drives the Chief from His Chair

Dear Sarah,
We love your exotic letter with its colorful, local vocabulary.  This Arachnid is a Solifugid in order Solifugae, and though the members are commonly called Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions in North America, they are neither spiders nor scorpions with which they are classed in Arachnida.  In the Middle East they are called Camel Spiders and there is much internet hysteria surrounding their alleged traits.  Solifugids, including your local Things that Drive the Chief from His Chair, are formidable predators, and though they lack venom, we would not welcome a bite from a large individual.  We are featuring your submission and dubbing it our favorite end of the year posting.

Thank you for your prompt reply and for your assistance in helping me identify this creature. I am so pleased with your services I may call on them again. Thank you very much.
Sarah Sjoblom

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination