From the monthly archives: "January 2000"

We have Hundreds maybe Thousands on the ground and
all over our house. Please help us as my 6 and 4 year olds are scared and me too!
aceman

We were unable to anwer this reader who should be somewhat afraid of Blister Beetles which can cause a skin reaction.

Thank God for your site! We just finished our basement and the other morning my 2 1/2 year old daughter came running up the basement stairs shouting about a BIG bug. I thought it was going to be an ant, but it was a Stag Beetle even larger than the one in the photo sent to you by Lynn in Massachusetts. Ours was nearly three inches long and it was dark brown. I am writing because of your comment about the beetle enjoying rotting wood. Do you think this means I have rotting wood in my house or did this really scary creature get lost?
Much appreciated!
Kim

Dear Kim,
It could be rotting wood, in which case you should think of the Stag Beetle as an early alert. It is also
reputed that the beetles, which can fly, are attracted to lights, in which case your visit could be benign.

Mr. Bugman,
I work at Colorado River State Park. This cute little guy was found over here last evening. We are currently lacking a decent insect field guide, and were hoping that you could help us out. He’s obviously from Order Coleoptera, and makes a distinct screaming noise when threatened.
Thank you much,
Ranger DeBerard

Dear Ranger,
You have a California Prionus beetle, Prionus californicus, a member of the borer beetl group. They are among the largest beetles in the Western US. Though I couldn’t find any information on their noise making habits, I do know for a fact that other borers, including the red and black Milkweed Borer, Tetraopes tetraophthalmus, are capable of squeeking when handled. Here is some information I downloaded from another site: Range: California: coastal and inland valleys, foothills, and mountains to middle elevations. > Alaska, south to Baja
California, and east, into the Rocky Mountains. Hosts: Prevalent in oak, madrone, poplar and apple; also attacks cherry, walnut, chestnut, willow, serviceberry, eucalyptus, pear, almond, peach, plum, quince, alder, hop, some conifers, brambles and certain shrubs. Biology: Adults fly June to September; females may lay up to 600 eggs; lifecycle takes 3-5 years. Importance: Larvae bore into bark at plant bases, and penetrate roots; leaves yellow, then defoliate; bark on larger branches dries and cracks. Plants often die the following season. Serious pest of apples in New Mexico.