Subject: Big Green worm
Location: Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
April 13, 2014 10:29 pm
Hi
I found these guys on my lemon tree and they have now spread to most trees in my garden.
Scary looking things with a thorn on there backs, have 2 big eyes and a mouth that looks like something out of aliens.
Pics attached.
Signature: Regards,

Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar

Citrus Swallowtail Caterpillar

This is the Caterpillar of a Citrus Swallowtail, Papilio demodocus, a lovely butterfly that feeds on the leaves of citrus trees while in the larval stage.  All the features you describe are used as defense mechanisms by the caterpillar, which has a forked organ known as an osmeterium that is revealed and accompanied by a scent some predators might find off-putting.  We believe that is the thorn you have mentioned.  The eyes and mouth you mentioned are markings that might cause a predator, like a bird, to believe this is a much larger predator, like a snake, instead of a delectable morsel.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Vietnam cave dwelling spider
Location: Marble mountains, near Da Nang, Vietnam
April 13, 2014 12:23 pm
We were exploring a dark cave, in the marble mountains, near Hoi An, Vietnam, in March this year, and came across this spider. It’s hard to tell in the photo we took but it’s leg span was approx 5-6 inches. It had striped markings on it. It was in a pitch black cave, we discovered it trying to find our way using a camera flash! Would be really interested to find out what kind of spider it is!
Signature: KH

Possibly Huntsman Spider

Possibly Huntsman Spider

Dear KH,
We cannot say for certain, but the general shape of this spider as well as the size you indicate leads us to believe this is a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae.  We will attempt additional research.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly. That is really interesting, thank you!
Best wishes,
Kate

Subject: Small beetle, windowsill & baseboards
Location: Vancouver Island, BC – southern tip.
April 13, 2014 11:12 am
Hi,
I have been finding these little beetles on my windowsill in my atrium (18′ ceilings) and along the baseboards in that atrium. There is no carpet – it’ s laminate flooring. The house is only 7 years old. The atrium is our ‘dining room’ which is only used for dinner in the evenings and kept clean.
Can you please advise what the bug is – I’m assuming it’s some sort of beetle.
Signature: Thanks, Tammy

Varied Carpet Beetles

Varied Carpet Beetles

Hi Tammy,
You have Varied Carpet Beetles,
Anthrenus verbasci , currently our most common identification request with an average of five requests arriving daily.  Varied Carpet Beetles are members of the family Dermestidae, a group that contains many members that are cosmopolitan and that infest homes.  The adults, which you are finding, feed on pollen, and they are likely congregating on the window sills in an attempt to gain access to the outdoors.  The larvae are the pests that infest homes.  According to BugGuide, they are “primarily a household pest on plant (dried fruits/nuts) and animal materials; regularly encountered in dried-milk factories, occasionally in flour mills and warehouses” and they eat a “wide variety of materials of animal origin (wool, fur, skins…)(1); stored food materials and products (biscuits, cakes, seeds, wheat, maize, oats, rice, cayenne pepper, cacao, and dried cheese)”.  They are reviled in museums and BugGuide also notes they are: “arguably, world’s most important pest of insect collections.”  The best way to eliminate them from the home, in fact the only way to eliminate them from the home, is to identify the source of the infestation, the place where the larvae are feeding, and discard any food or other item that might be feeding the larvae. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Please help me identify this bug.
Location: South Florida
April 12, 2014 7:44 pm
I live in South Florida and I keep noticing these bugs inside of our apartment. It just started happening around February. They have wings although I’ve never seen them fly. We get sprayed by the exterminator in our apartment so I think I’m seeing them after they have been poisoned. They also have long back legs. Please help! I have an infant and a two year old this worries me. Thanks !
Signature: Concerned Mom

Ensign Wasp

Ensign Wasp

Dear Concerned Mom,
You should be concerned, but not because of this insect.  This is a beneficial Ensign Wasp, a species that lays eggs on the oothicae or egg cases of Cockroaches.  Developing Ensign Wasp larvae eat Cockroach Eggs and unhatched nymphs, helping to control the Cockroach population naturally, without the use of pesticides.  These dead Ensign Wasps are either the result of collateral damage due to spraying for Cockroaches, or they are the result of bug phobia.  Some folks believe any bug in the home is a problem, resulting in unnecessary spraying of potentially, environmentally toxic chemicals.  We believe that the use of pesticides in the home is much more harmful to infants and toddlers than an encounter with a beneficial Ensign Wasp which is not capable of stinging nor biting a human.

Thanks so much for your reply. When we first moved into our apartment we found out it was infested with cockroaches. They tried several different sprays and treatments finally the apartments pest control sprayed a bed bug spray that was extremely strong smelling all through the house. I don’t see cockroaches anymore except dead on occasion, but I see these often. Does it mean I still have a cockroach problem too? Is this something I should consider breaking my lease for because of my children? Thanks again for your reply.

Hi again Concerned Mom,
We do not want to provide any advice regarding relocation, but we can provide you with additional information that might help you make up your own mind.  There are several studies that link Cockroach infestations to asthma in humans.  According to the American Lung Association website:  “Cockroaches, those unpleasant and unsightly pests, are not just a problem to look at. They also produce substances, or allergens, that aggravate asthma and cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to those substances. The allergens produced by cockroaches are likely concentrated in their fecal matter and in fragments of their body parts. These tiny particles can become airborne and contaminate the air in your home.”  The site has much more information on the relationship between Cockroaches and asthma.  The pesticides versus the cockroach infestation seems like a choice between the lesser of two evils, and there are probably differing opinions on which is worse.  The Ensign Wasp continuing to manifest its appearance in your apartment is a good indication that the Cockroaches are still present, albeit unseen.

Subject: What Kind Of Bug Is This
Location: United States, NJ
April 12, 2014 7:27 pm
hello..this kind of bug ended up in my house two different times..im wondering what it is..if you could help that would be great
Signature: not sure

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental Cockroach

Though it is commonly called a Water Bug, this is an Oriental Cockroach, Blatta orientalis, and it is one of the species of pestiferous Cockroaches that is closely associated with human habitation.  They can become especially numerous in cool, damp places including basements and sewers.  According to BugGuide, they are:  “Omnivorous but prefers starchy or sugary foods. Often associated with garbage or decaying organic matter, indoors or out. Can survive one month without food as long as water is available, or two weeks with neither food nor water.”  Flushing it down the toilet, which is what it appears might happen immediately after this image was taken, will likely introduce it to more of its kin. 

Subject: Swarms of wood chewing bugs
Location: grand rapids, michigan
April 12, 2014 4:35 pm
At first glance I thought “carpenter ants,” but that’s only because we have a massive carpenter ant issue in our neighborhood. Upon taking a closer look, I realized that they were definitely not carpenter ants. They come in swarms of 20-50 and land on any exposed wood in the area. At first it seemed that they were just congregating, but I noticed that the totem pole I’d been carving was starting to look smoother… Like someone had come around and sanded it for me. Since Wednesday of last week I’d noticed that the entire pole was covered in these things, but was too busy with other things to look closer. Today I went out and got a good look, and it was pretty clear that their mandibles were working extra hard. They were gorging away. I’ve had no luck identifying them on my own, and more than anything I’m just really curious what they are. They don’t seem to come from any particular direction, one minute there’s none , and five minutes later there’s dozens of them. They aren’t the best flyers, and seem to land in the grass every few feet before launching off again.
Signature: dave

Sawfly Chews Wood!!!  But Why???

Sawfly Chews Wood!!! But Why???

Hi Dave,
We wanted to contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion on this perplexing behavior prior to assembling the posting.  Chewing wood is generally a behavior associated with paper wasps and hornets that use the wood pulp in the construction of a nest.  The numbers of wasps you observed coming to your totem pole at the same time also implies that this is some type of social wasp, but it resembles a Wood Wasp more than a social wasp.  Here is what Eric Eaton wrote back.

Dolerus Sawfly chews wood, but why???

Dolerus Sawfly chews wood, but why???

Eric Eaton provided an identification, but cannot explain behavior
Daniel:
Ok, I can identify the wasps, but cannot explain the behavior….
The wasps are sawflies in the genus Dolerus (pretty sure anyway, definitely sawflies).  I’ll ask around and see if anyone can explain them flocking to a wood carving.
Eric

Sawfly attracted to wood shavings.

Sawfly attracted to wood shavings.

Update:  Thanks to Eric Eaton’s identification, we were able to locate an image of a Dolerus Sawfly on BugGuide that does indeed resemble the Sawflies in your images, and it is also crawling on some exposed wood.  There is no explanation regarding what is going on in these BugGuide images, nor in this BugGuide image.  This Cirrus Image website provides some information, including “Their flight is slow and clumsy, resembling that of a common firefly. Larvae feed on various grasses.”  But alas, there is no information on wood chewing activities.

Thanks for the identification!  Its quite odd, they definitely match the description, especially the clumsy flight.  On that note they certainly don’t fly together, they arrive one at a time within a minute or two of each other.  I had to take down some tree limbs today and sure enough the cut ends of the limbs were crawling with these guys within a few minutes.  The odd thing is they don’t interact with each other at all.  In fact it really looks like they are just sitting there.  If you get really close however, you can see their mandibles are hard at work.  They don’t really leave any marks, it seems that they just clean off any small dangling bits of wood.  Yesterday I noticed one had its abdomen curled down in an awkward position as though it was a bee trying to sting the wood.  But I haven’t seen any others do that.  But its like they can smell fresh cut wood for miles, because you won’t see them all day, but cut a log and they’re everywhere.
Thanks again!  You’ve definitely satisfied my curiosity, even if their behavior leaves a new mystery to solve.
Dave