From the monthly archives: "September 2003"

Red, White and Blue Insect
I wrote to you about a month ago about a red , white and blue insect. I finally have a couple of pictures. Hopefully these will help you identify these insecects. Still very curious in Birmingham, Alabama.
Thank you,

note: Here is Lyn’s original letter, lost in the bowels of our mailbox.

(8/16/2003) Red white and Blue
I have just spent a week at our beach house in Santa Rosa, Florida. ( the Gulf of Mexico area or Destin, Florida). In all of my 45 years there I have never seen a more beautiful flying insect. Its colors are red, white and blue . The closest insect that I can compare it to in size is a wasp or hornet. As we were so overwhelmed by its beauty, we didn’t even think whether or not it would sting us. Fortunately, it did not. I got very close to it to take a picture and it just stayed as if it were posing. How ironical ………………….that today we would find a red,white and blue flier ! Can you help identify this beautiful creature ? Also, at the beginning of the evening sky, we would have hundreds (maybe an exageration ) of tiny green frogs on our sliding glass doors.How precious they were ! I’ve never seen them there either ! I wonder if this years abundance of rain has anything to do with this ??
Thanks for your help,
Puzzled Lyn,
Birmingham, Alabama

Dear Lyn,
I cannot tell you the exact species, but it is a moth that mimics a wasp. Of the two families of moths known as Wasp Moths, your specimen appears to belong to the subfamily Ctenuchinae which are small day-flying moths most of which are tropical and very colorful. They are sometimes seen flying in great numbers. These moths not only mimic wasps in appearance, but sometimes in behavior as well. Needless to say, this mimicry is a self preservation technique since many predators avoid wasps due to their sting. The other family of Wasp Moths is Sesiidae, and includes clearwing moths, many of which are agricultural pests like the Peach Tree Borer. The moths have no sting. Your photos are great.

Thanks so much for your help. What an" interesting " field you have ! Again, thank you. If your ever in my neck of the woods……………….look me up. Please see my web site"
We ship all over the country.
Take care,

Editor’s Note: The moth has now been correctly identified as the Polka Dot Wasp Moth, Syntomeida epilais jucundissima, whose destructive caterpillars are known as the Oleander Caterpillars (see above letter).

I have been trying to find out information regarding the habits of crickets and hope that you could answer a couple of questions for me. When do crickets lay their eggs? (time of year, time of day)How many do they lay? How long does a cricket live? Do they "Mate" for life? I thank you in advance for any help on this.
Renee Greenman

Hi Renee,
I will try to answer all your questions. I’m guessing you mean Field Crickets, Acheta (or Gryllus) assimilis, though there are many types of crickets which have different habits and habitats. Field Crickets are black and over a half an inch in length. They are nocturnal. They lay their eggs in the fall and the female buries them in the ground with her ovipositor. Several hundred eggs are laid singly in the ground. A cricket that lives an entire year is long lived, and a female needs only mate once to lay eggs, but one could hardly consider them to be monogomous.

(11/15/2003) Ugly Basement Bug
Hi bugman … we have been having a problem with a large hopping bug. They are in our basement (they are not crickets). They’re large (about and inch long) with a softish type brownish colored shell body and long legs (about 1-1/2" long). Legs are brown with beige striped. They’re very quick and hop away – very hard to kill and some have been immune (it seems) to the only spray we had in house (hornet spray). They are VERY VERY UGLY. Sorry we cannot supply a photo. Help!

Dear Louiseann,
I’m guessing Camel Crickets which have a very high arched back. Here is an image. They are fond of dark places and often take up residence in basements. They are relatively harmless.

Dear Daniel….. you are right on…. our bug is definitely the Camel Cricket….and now you mentioned "dark" , they do tend to be found at night. When we go downstairs in evening and turn light on, we’ll spot one or two. Thanks so much – I feel very relieved – they looked so prehistoric! You are really knowledgeable. Appreciate your efforts and thanks for getting back to me.

Dear bugman,
Please help us identify this fine bug we found, it has piqued our curiousity. It was found dead in the water near our sump pump in our basement. Being bug phobic, I asked my husband to remove the bug. I went on about how big it was. It was not until he removed it that he remarked "That is the wierdest bug I have ever seen" So we tried researching but couldn’t find
what it was. Your website is a great resource.

Hi Megan,
You have some type of cricket, an Orthopteran. Sorry I can’t give you a species name, but I will work on it.

I have a note from some household tips mag that silverfish don’t like clove.
“If you are troubled with silverfish try placing whole cloves in the closets and drawers.”
dunno, but it’s worth a try
I only have a couple in the bathroom and haven’t found where they live.

Wow, we love natural tips for pest control. We will post this one immediately.

Thanks! I really enjoyed that … your site was featured in Cool Tricks &
Trinkets Email newsletter today … and although I find bugs creepy, I was
irrationally drawn to check out your site … is that kind of like slowing
down for an accident? Maybe. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I think
your design is great, your writing excellent, and all around, a great site!
What the Internet is all about!
M.-J. Taylor

Dear M.-J.,
Thanks so much for the glowing compliments. We’re just two college teachers with too much time on our hands and an interest in putting information out into the world. Have a great day.
Daniel & Lisa Anne