From the monthly archives: "August 2003"

Big Green Bug?
We’ve just seen an unusual bug clinging for dear life on the side of my front steps. It is large, with a yellowish green body and legs (six of them), two long antennae, raised back and a flat head and about 2" long and 1" wide. Can you tell me what this might be? It didn’t move while we were looking at it or taking pictures of it. Thank you.

Dear DJ,
Where are the photos and where do you live? Without additional information, it could be many things. Katydids resemble green grasshoppers, and do have long antennae. Please send photos if you have them. I appologize for the delay in replying, but our website is down because of heavy traffic.

I just sent the photos in a separate e-mail. I live in North Carolina.

Hi DJ,
Thanks for the photos. Even though they are out of focus, I can see you have a male Katydid. The female has a long ovipositor for depositing her eggs on branches. Exact species is indeterminable in your photo, but it appears to be the True Katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia. The male is musical, producing sounds by rubbing the wing covers, which have rasps and ridges, together like a fiddle and bow. Those night sounds are used to attract a mate. They are sometimes attracted to lights at night.

Dear bug man,
In the last few months my roomates and I have been the unfortunate hosts to the dreaded Bed Bug. Until I met the nasty critters in real life, I thought they were only the fabricated subject of the cute little pre-bedtime saying "Night-night, don’t let the bed bugs bite". But they do exist. And they have become a part of my living nightmare now for three long months. I live in Brooklyn, New York in a building with four apartments. The bugs were brought in by our upstairs neighbors. The short of the story is that I have to move out of this building because I cannot take it anymore. I am also afraid that I will bring them with me when I go. Do you have any advice about a bug free move? As it is, I am throwing out my bed my dresser and my couches (that is the extent of my furniture anyway). And I am laundering every article of clothing and bedding and then moving it into storage. The other distressing aspect of my story is that I have become a social pariah. One of my friends just moved into a new apartment and will not allow me to set foot into her home until I am free of bed bugs. She also refuses to see me… well, anywhere. I think she would cross the street if she happened to run into me in Manhattan one day. This has caused a strain on our friendship because, in reality i think she is being paranoid…. is she? Will the eggs stick to my clothes even after i have laundered them? i don’t sleep in my apartment anymore anyway. I am living at my boyfriends while i move out of the infested apartment. Please help me. It sucks that my friends are treating me like I have a communicable disease. Maybe I should just get new friends. Thanks for any advice you can give!
Deirdre .

Dear Deirdre,
I sympathize with you.
You do need to worry about taking the pests with you. Bed bugs may be transported from place
to place on clothing or in luggage or furniture, and they can migrate from house to house.
Eggs are generally laid in cracks, not on people or clothing. The bugs are nocturnal and
during the day, they hide in cracks in the walls, under the baseboard, in the springs of a
bed, under the edge of a mattress, under wallpaper, and in similar places.
My advice is to fumigate before leaving, only take furniture that is irreplacable. Get a new
box spring and mattress, eliminate most of your clothing and only take freshly laundered
clothing to your new place. Good luck.

Please help Identify a bug that we saw at our home in Rocklin, California (Sacramento area) today. It was about 2" long, blue metallic looking – looked like some kind of huge wasp or hornet that that was carrying a huge dead cricket. It flew also. My husband has spotted about 10 over the last few weeks around our yard. I’d like to know what it is, to know if it can sting my kids. If you have any ideas, we would be eager to know what this is.
Thanks a lot,

Dear Mary,
It’s Probably a Blue Mud Wasp, Chalybion californicum, which generally preys upon spiders, but crickets will do. They can sting, but are not aggressive. They are solitary wasps that nest in abandoned Mud Dauber homes or simple crevasses.

Thank you so much. My 9 year old daughter was freaking out when we saw it – I don’t think it helped that it was carrying a huge cricket! I just looked up a picture on the web, and it sure looks like what we saw. Thank you "Bugman".

We keep finding these what look like tiny beetles in our house. I have found maybe 10 over the last week. Tonight I found one in our bed and that freaked me out. I have a picture of the nasty little thing I scanned. The bug is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch at the most. It looks all brownish/black to the naked eye but when I scanned it it looks kind of spotty. I am not sure if they bite. On the scan the bug is split up the middle of it’s back, but that’s just from when I killed it. No wings that I can see, but kind of a round bulbus butt, and a head the comes not really to a point, more like a triangle with the top cut off where the mouth is. 6 legs, and one set of antenni. I am not sure why they keep coming in our house or where they come from, and I don’t know if they bite. I am somewhat bug-phobic, so any answers you can provide could help tremendously!!

I looks like a type of weevil, some species of which attack food in the pantry, which could explain their presence in your house.

Thanks very much. I did a picture search on Google and that’s the guy.
We have more weeds than usual close to the kitchen / side entrance so
that also explains them getting within reach of the house too. Thanks
for your help!

Hi bug man! There has been a visitor on our screen at night that I think may be a beetle. It has 6 legs, very long antennae, a triangle shaped head, dark hard back, furry chest underneath, flies, and is 2 inches long without the antennae. It does not have the "furry" legs that cockroaches appear to have. It also made hissing noises. I’ve been trying to identify it online, without success. Any ideas? Is it dangerous? Thank you for your help!
Dear Jennifer,
It might be a California Prionus, a large beetle often attracted to lights at night. Not dangerous. Here is a photo sent in by a reader. Ranger D (see below) has also reported sounds.

Thank you!!!

It has been raining for days and the leaves toward the bottom of my tomato plants are starting to look yellow. Then I saw what I thought were tiny little white bugs and figured I could just pluck them off. Much to my surprise they were part of, or attached to, a very large slug like creature that had suction cupped itself to the plant. What the heck is it, or are they? What can I do to get rid of it? I also found a smaller orange like slug that I smushed. Again, what is it and what do I do about it? And then, because things come in threes, I found droppings, on the leaves, that were the size of a small childs fingernail bed. hard to tell if it is bird poop or otherwise. This is the first time I am growing vegetables and these plants were hand cultivated by good friends. I want to make sure I do the right thing…too embarrassing to let their hard work, and mine, go to the bugs.
Please help.
Many thanks!
Risa Hochroth

Dear Risa,
I wish you had sent a photo. The tiny white bugs you found were doing your job for you. It is perfect bio-warfare. They are the pupae of a type of parasitic Braconid wasp. The female wasp lays her eggs inside (using an ovipositor) the larva of a tomato hornworm, a common pest on tomatoes. It is the green sluglike creature you found. The larvae of the wasp eat the hornworm inside out, then pupate on the outside, the stage you discovered. The caterpillar then dies and the wasps mature and begin a new cycle. The Tomato Hornworm >is the caterpillar of a large moth, Manduca sexta or Manduca quinquemaculata. The larvae are identified by the horn at the posterior end and they attain a length of four or more inches and a girth equal to a human finger before burying into the ground to pupate. While in the caterpillar form, they can defoliate entire branches of a tomato plant as well as nibbling on the still green tomatoes.

Thank you.
So, if I have handpicked the two I saw, what should I do to prevent others from appearing and destroying the plant. I assume if there were 2 there are more, yes? I sprayed insecticidal soap on the foliage, but I am wondering if there is more I should do other than just keep looking for them and handpicking them off. On the web I read that I should not have killed the hornworm with the wasps, which is consistent with what you have said, but should I have left it there to have the wasps potentially kill other worms. I thought leaving them would just give them more time to eat the foliage and the tomatoes that they have already munched on. Also, once I harvest the last tomatoes, isthere anything I need to do to the soil to make sure that they are not going to be there next year?
Risa Hochroth

Hand picking is, in our opinion, the best means of control. Watch for the telltale signs, nibbled leaves and droppings, then search for the grazer. You can sift through the soil to locate the large pupae, but adults can just fly in and lay eggs. A dilligent eye is the best form of control since we do not endorse undue use of pesticides in the garden, especially on produce meant for human consumption.